Authors: Bolzano research centre
In March 2020, thousands of scientists around the world joined forces to investigate the questions at the forefront of the medical debate on the pandemic: what genetic factors influence the severity of Covid-19 infections and why do some people develop a serious illness that requires hospitalisation while others have mild or no symptoms?
The results of the research, published in Nature only a few days ago, revealed extraordinary findings 13 loci – points in the human genome – were identified as being strongly associated with severe Covid-19 infection. This discovery comes from one of the world’s largest genetics studies: the group examined the genomes of almost 50,000 patients with Covid-19 and another two million uninfected people. The data findings included participants in the studies conducted by Eurac Research in South Tyrol over the past year.
The Covid-19 Host Genomics Initiative was launched in March 2020 by the Finnish Institute of Molecular Medicine at the University of Helsinki. The initiative has now grown to become one of the most extensive collaborations on human genetics, currently including more than 60 studies from 25 different countries. Thanks to the huge amount of data available, the researchers have been able to produce statistically robust analyses in a relatively short time, achieving results that no research institution could have achieved independently. Of the 13 loci identified, two were found most frequently in East and South Asian populations. The analyses also showed that some of these loci are located in close proximity to genes involved in serious lung diseases such as cancer or pulmonary fibrosis. In these cases, inhibiting the gene could be a therapeutic strategy to be explored further. Researchers have also identified other factors that influence the severity of the disease, such as smoking and a high body mass index.
For More Information: https://www.eurac.edu/en/magazine/covid-19-links-between-genes-disease-severity