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COVID-19 Cases Differ with Coronavirus and Human Genetics


Young and healthy people suffer from severe illness once they get COVID-19 due to unknown reasons. Serious responses to coronavirus infection like the ones with other illnesses such as influenza might occur due to genetic differences between the individuals. Discovering coronavirus and human genetics will help to know about important insights.

Genetic susceptibility to the symptoms of severe coronavirus 

Most people suffer from mild symptoms only when they get COVID-19 though a minority will have severe or life-threatening response. Though some difference can be explained with high risk factors such as older age or underlying health conditions, the reasons why young people fall sick is one of the puzzles of COVID-19 pandemic. It is suggested to perform a PCR test and know if you are already a carrier of coronavirus.

Some answers may be hidden in the human genome. The genome is body’s instruction manual that has all the information needed to prepare, maintain and repair an individual. You will find a copy of it present in almost all human cells which are made of DNA that you inherit from your parents.

Genes within the genome may work singly, but more commonly act together, just like the players in an orchestra and even interact with the environment. For example, the activity of genes involved in your skin protection from UV light damage increases.

Any two people who have genomes are almost 99.9% the same and the remaining 0.1% will make them different. This variation is needed to know how different people react to certain infections. For example, when people get infected with coronavirus, fragments of this virus are found by the immune system that might differ from one person to the other. The result can be a variation in the immune response to the infection.

Coronavirus studies related to genome sequencing and evaluation

Though family or twin studies can help in establishing if there is inherited element for severe response to infection, getting a few or hundred sets of letters might be held responsible among the genome’s six billion letters of code till recently this has been expensive and time-consuming. Thus, the earlier attempts to look into the genomes of those having severe responses to an infection like influenza during the last pandemic in 2009 were difficult. 

Since the flu pandemic in 2009, there was a revolution in sequencing and in the tools for genome analysis. This has made quite easy to compare large numbers of genomes quickly. High speed computing has eanbled to work out any response to infection easily that involves different genes acting together or using orchestra analogy which the members of an orchestra are held responsible for playing with the tune.

Large collaborations can enhance the chances of finding out genes that affect the severity of the disease. According to the COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative, it brings together human genetics community all over the world to generate, share, and evaluate data to determine about genetic determinants of COVID-19.

As per the data compiled by this consortium, it will help to recognize individuals at higher or lower risk of disease, generate great ideas for drug repurpose and lead to global knowledge of the biology of SARS-CoV-2 infection and the disease. The UK BioBank, a long established resource for studying human genetics, is among the UK contributors to that consortium.

Besides, a £28 million sequencing study that involves 20,000 people presently or previously in intensive care with COVID-19 along with 15,000 people who have mild or moderate symptoms, has been launched by Genomics England. They have partnered with the GenOMICC consortium, the NHS and UK Research and Innovation, Illumina, among others.

The study had reached patients in 170 intensive care units all over the UKto discover several effects of coronavirus on patients. Also, it will support the search for treatments by detecting those who are at greater risk and fast-track new therapies into the clinical trials.

How genetics research may expose coronavirus treatment

Genetic factors are popular to have an important role in human susceptibility to infectious diseases such as severe forms of malaria and they are extremely important for COVID-19. Whether genes have a major or minor part in understanding the response to coronavirus infection, tracking them down is essential as they offer clues about the biological pathways involved in the COVID-19 disease. If these pathways had been affected by drugs being used for treating other diseases, these drugs might be repurposed for the treatment of COVID-19.

One promising place to consider genetic factors that manage COVID-19 is within the human leukocyte antigen or HLA complex that can help to regulate immunity. You will find several kinds of HLA controlled by different genes and it is quite possible that one of these types is involved in severe response to coronavirus infection. It is not known whether there is any link between genes, immunity and severity of COVID-19. However, the studies carried out all over the world will start providing some answers to it.

By knowing about the course of infection and how people are getting affected, the spread of COVID-19 can be slowed down. You may conduct a PCR swab test in London and know if you have been infected with coronavirus.