Scientists find 16 ‘Covid genes’ that raise your risk of falling critically ill | Dailytrust

Scientists find 16 ‘Covid genes’ that raise your risk of falling critically ill

Scientists have uncovered more than a dozen genetic quirks that may explain why some people are more vulnerable to severe COVID-19 than others.

Up to 16 changes to DNA were found in patients critically ill with the virus, many of which are involved in blood clotting and inflammation.

One genetic variant was found to be slower at signaling to the immune system that cells are under attack from the virus.  

Having just one of the genes could be the difference between getting a cough and being admitted to intensive care, according to the biggest study of its kind.

As part of the government-funded research, experts at the University of Edinburgh studied the genes of more than 57,000 people across the UK, including 9,000 COVID patients.

This is not the first time studies have found different genes could predispose certain people to becoming severely ill with COVID.

But the scientists hope the latest finding will help identify new drugs and treatments in the future. Their earlier work has already helped lead to the discovery that arthritis drug; baricitinib could treat certain patients at risk of severe disease.

 The study, partly funded by the Department of Health, did not break down the risk of becoming severely ill per gene, or which Britons might be more at risk than others based on their heritage. 

However, they said some genes were linked to a doubling of the risk of severe illness from COVID.

In the study, published in the Journal of Nature, scientists sequenced the whole genomes of nearly 7,500 Britons who needed intensive care treatment for COVID.

They then compared these genomes to around 1,600 people who had mild COVID and around 48,000 who never had the virus.

The scientists found key differences in 16 genes in the intensive care patients.

It is one day hoped that genetic testing could reveal a person’s risk from a variety of conditions and diseases such as COVID. 

Edinburgh’s Professor Kenneth Baillie, an expert in Critical Care Medicine and the study’s chief investigator, said the discovery of the new COVID risk genes opened the doorway to potentially new treatments.   

“These results explain why some people develop life-threatening COVID, while others get no symptoms at all,” he said. Mail Online

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