15.07.2020 change 15.07.2020

Susceptibility to COVID-19 depends on your genes, says new research

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People's susceptibility to the coronavirus infection and the course of COVID-19 disease may depend on certain genes, a team of international scientists has found.

Through DNA analysis of 2,000 infected people from Spain and Italy, the researchers found that genes located in the third chromosome can be crucial in determining why people react differently to SARS-COV-2 coronavirus infection and have a different course of COVID-19.

Co-author of the COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative (HGI) report, biotechnologist Dr. Karolina Chwiałkowska, said: “The large-scale genomic analyses confirmed the link between genetic variability in this region of the human genome and the severe course of COVID-19.

“These studies may enable the assessment of genetic predisposition regarding individual susceptibility to infection and the severity of COVID-19.”

She added: “The HGI consortium studies are conducted in parallel in 50 countries, and their results are then collected and compared as part of global analyses combining data from many independent projects. 

“This means that a team of researchers from one end of the world has instant access to the results of other scientists working on the same problem elsewhere.”

Research is now underway to thoroughly analyse the identified variants in the region where six genes are located: SLC6A20, LZTFL1, CCR9, FYCO1, CXCR6, XCR1.

Dr. Chwiałkowska, a biotechnologist from the Centre of Bioinformatics and Data Analysis at the Medical University of Bialystok, and the company IMAGENE.ME, were the largest Polish participants of the study which included several hundred scientific centres, biotech companies and biobanks from around the world. 

CEO of IMAGENE.ME, Dr. Mirosław Kwaśniewski, said that as soon as the HGI consortium confirms its final conclusions, it will be possible to identify the presence of key variants associated with SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and identify people more at risk of severe course of COVID-19.

The research was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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