The international consortium COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative, in which Russia is represented by the Genotek Medical Genetic Center, has identified genetic markers that indicate the susceptibility of people to coronavirus infection and the severe development of the disease, Genotek Communications Director Dmitry Khrapunov told Vedomosti.
People, depending on their genome, that is, DNA molecules, have a different course of the disease, he explained: “The study participants identified 13 regions of the genome that are closely associated with the risk of infection or severe course of COVID-19. Depending on the mutation of these sites, it can be concluded whether a particular organism is susceptible to coronavirus and how the disease will progress. ” The study was conducted on 50,000 people with coronavirus infection and 2 million people who did not get sick.
“We were able to identify certain markers of susceptibility to coronavirus,” says Khrapunov. – In particular, if a mutation in the FOXP4 gene is detected, showing a predisposition to lung cancer, then this may indicate susceptibility to COVID-19. The same result can be shown by the DPP9 gene, which reveals a predisposition to lung cancer and pulmonary fibrosis, and TYK2, which is involved in some autoimmune diseases. “
During the study, scientists found that of the 13 genomic regions associated with the incidence of COVID-19, two are more common in patients of East Asian or South Asian descent in comparison with patients of European origin, that is, the nationalities of the first groups are more likely to have a severe course of the disease than others. These groups include such nationalities as the Chinese, Hindus, Koreans, Nepalese, Mongols and peoples close to them.
Global genetic research has been conducted since March 2020 by a specially created consortium, which includes representatives of the scientific communities of the United States (Brod Institute of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University), Finland (FIMM Institute of Molecular Medicine), Russia (Genotek) and other countries. An international consortium has been able to carry out one of the most extensive collaborative studies in the field of human genetics, involving more than 3,300 authors from 25 countries.
For the analysis, the consortium pooled the results of dozens of separate studies carried out by scientific laboratories and genetic companies, including Genotek. In Russia, the sample included 676 cases of COVID-19 and 12,317 healthy people. This approach, on the one hand, made it possible to exclude the transfer of the initial genetic data of patients and to depersonalize them, while maintaining confidentiality, and on the other hand, to summarize the results of the analysis of a large number of subjects, emphasize in Genotek.
The consortium’s research will continue, Genotek said. The susceptibility to the disease will be investigated based on new data, and the results will help determine individual preventive measures and ways to combat coronavirus infection, the researchers are sure.