December 11, 2020 – 03:30 pm
A group of researchers said this Friday that they had identified genetic characteristics that could explain why some patients suffer from a more severe version of COVID-19, which, according to them, could help improve treatments.
“The beauty of genetics is that it can predict the effects of a drug. What is really exciting about this study is that we have identified genes that are directly involved from a therapeutic point of view, which can lead to treatments,” explained the lead author. of the study published in Nature, Kenneth Baillie, of the University of Edinburgh.
To try to determine why some patients suffer the most severe versions of the disease, the researchers analyzed the genomes of more than 2,000 British people heavily affected by the coronavirus.
By comparing the genome with that of other people, they found eight common genetic sequences in severely ill patients with covid. These sequences played a determining role in the body’s inflammatory response to fight pathogens such as the new coronavirus.
By deepening this examination, they were able to isolate two genes in particular, TYK2 and CCR2, whose role is to encode the proteins involved in the body’s inflammatory response.
Theoretically, acting on these substances could reduce the severity of the disease.
“We have shown that the genes that produce more TYK2 protein pose more risks in case of covid. Now, there is a drug on the market that inhibits it,” Kenneth Baillie explained in an online press conference.
You may be interested in: AstraZeneca and Russia to conduct joint clinical trial of their covid-19 vaccines
The group of drugs that limits the action of the TYK2 protein, called Jano kinase inhibitors (JAK), are used in particular against rheumatoid polyarthritis, an inflammatory disease.
A synthetic antibody treatment that combats the action of the CCR2 protein is also being tested, Baillie explained.
It’s urgent to test those drugs on seriously ill covid-19 patients, Baillie and her colleagues asked.
In recent months, several genetic clues have been explored to try to explain the most aggressive forms of the new coronavirus.