The link between genes and covid-19 persists
WHO defines prolonged Covid-19 as symptoms during the acute covid period that persists after up to 3 months.
Symptoms include: from fatigue, cough, muscle pain to loss of sense of smell and taste…
Initially, scientists said the condition was most common in people with moderate to severe Covid-19 infections, but subsequent research has shown that people with mild or asymptomatic symptoms may also have prolonged Covid-19.
Human genes may be linked to the likelihood of prolonged Covid-19, according to researchers at the University of Sheffield and Stanford.
To date, scientists have not reached an accurate conclusion about subjects prone to prolonged Covid-19, but a study published in the journal Cell Press says four factors may increase the risk.
It is a high viral load; the presence of certain antibodies that mistakenly attack the tissues of the body; the reactivation of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV, also known as herpesvirus 4, is one of the eight viruses that cause human herpes in the herpes family, and is one of the most common viruses in humans); people with type 2 diabetes.
Research conducted by the University of Sheffield and Stanford University in the US has shown that human genes may also be related to which subjects are more likely to have prolonged Covid-19.
This is one of the first studies to link covid-19-related genes to specific biological functions.
A team of researchers has found that there are specific genetic indicators in people experiencing prolonged Covid-19.
The scientists used machine learning technology and discovered more than 1,000 genes that were involved in the development of severe cases of Covid-19 that required strong or fatal medical intervention.
“Over the course of the study, we discovered the underlying genetic makeup of coronavirus infection and found that these 1,000 genes accounted for three-quarters of the genetic causes of severe Covid-19.
This has implications in understanding why some people have more severe symptoms,” said Dr Johnathan Cooper-Knock, NIHR Clinical Lecturer in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Sheffield and co-author of the study.
The authors used multiple large datasets to decode the genetics behind a serious Covid-19 infection.
According to the first dataset containing genetic information from healthy human lung tissue, there is gene-related expression in 19 different types of lung cells, including epithelial cells lining the respiratory tract and being the first wall to protect against infection.
They also looked at other data that helped identify genetic clues, DNA mutations, known as single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), which is the most common genetic variant in humans.
According to the scientists, this may indicate whether the subject is at greater risk for Covid-19.
They continue to monitor mutations and conclude variations, i.e. mutations that continue to appear or not in people with severe infections.
This can be the cause of the severity of the infection.
However, gene mutations are difficult to explain on their own, which is why researchers choose to superimposed them on specific cell genomes.
This helps them determine which genes are dysfunctional and which types of cells.
As a result, severe Covid-19 is largely related to a weakened response from two well-known immune cells, natural killer cells (NK) and T cells.
“NK cells are the body’s first line of defense against infection, known for its ability to kill viruses and cancer cells.
NK cells also help produce a variety of immune system proteins called cytokines.
A cytokine, interferon gamma, is the main activator of immune cells. Working together with interferon gamma, NK cells bind immediate defenses to protect the body,” cooper-knock said.
According to him, NK cells are like generals directing the war.
NK mobilizes other immune cells, telling them where to go and what to do.
The researchers found that in people with severe coronavirus infection, important genes in NK cells were expressed less,
The study’s lead author, Professor Michael P Snyder from Stanford University, noted similarities between the Covid-19 risk gene and harmful variants of the BRCA gene (which have been found to be associated with the likelihood of breast and ovarian cancer in women).
Professor Snyder said: “Our findings lay the groundwork for a genetic test that can predict who is at risk for severe Covid-19.
Imagine there are 1,000 changes in DNA associated with severe Covid-19.
If you have 585 of these changes, it means you’re quite sensitive and you need to take all the necessary precautions.”