The novel coronavirus infects some people more severely than others. Scientists are trying to look for the reasons why this happens. Some people in a population only develop mild symptoms of the infection. While others become so severely ill that they need a mechanical ventilator and even die.
Researchers are studying the varying DNA makeup of patients to see the risk of severe coronavirus infection. A recent study published by European researchers shows that the coronavirus infection and genetic makeup are strongly linked together.
The researchers found two genes responsible for increasing the risk of coronavirus infection. One of the genes is responsible for the blood group type in humans. This gene shows a link with respiratory infection due to coronavirus.
According to this research, people with A blood type are more vulnerable to coronavirus infection. There is a 50 percent more risk that the person will depend on a ventilator or oxygen due to Covid-19.
Another finding of this study is related to the ACE2 protein. This protein is present on the surface of human cells. The coronavirus binds to this protein and gains entry to the human cells. The scientists modified this protein genetically to manipulate the entry of coronavirus. However, this mutation did not make any difference.
Andre Franke is the co-author of this latest study. He is also a molecular geneticist at the University of Kiel in Germany. He said that this study suggests factors contributing to severe coronavirus infection. Also, these factors were not discussed earlier before this study. The research is not peer-reviewed yet.
The researchers already highlighted risk factors for severe COVID infection. These factors include the age of the individual and underlying health conditions. However, the geneticists suggest that the DNA test can help identify individuals who are at greater risk of coronavirus infection. The authorities can help these individuals by providing appropriate care.
This study can also help the development of the drug against coronavirus. The drug makers can consider the specific genes and factors which lead to a more severe infection. Hence, it can treat the patient accordingly.
Dr. Franke joined hands with doctors from Spain and Italy for this research. The research started in February when the coronavirus cases spiked in these countries.
The doctors provided blood samples of 1,610 critically ill patients of coronavirus. The team of researchers used genotyping to layout the DNA map of these patients. The researchers also scanned another 2,205 blood samples with no coronavirus infection.
The researchers scanned the DNA for loci in genes common in the coronavirus patients. They compared the loci to those samples without coronavirus infection. Two loci appeared common in the severely ill patients of coronavirus.
One of the genome sites determines the blood group of an individual. Previously, blood type A appeared as a risk factor of severe coronavirus infection in Chinese research. The researchers found that people with this blood type can develop more serious infection.
Another locus on Chromosome 3 showed a link to severe infection due to coronavirus. However, there are six genes present on that site. The researchers can not put a finger on a particular gene that causes the coronavirus infection.
This study opens a new horizon of research in coronavirus infection. The scientists can now look at the genetic makeup of the patients for further information. This provides a new perspective that the difference in genetic composition leads to more severe coronavirus infection.