Genes hold the key to COVID-19 treatments
Researchers from Scotland have identified five genes associated with the most severe forms of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus disease COVID-19. The findings could be the key to new treatments.
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have located five genes that can have negative effects on the course of COVID-19. The new findings could help to find out which drugs are suitable for therapy.
DNA from intensive care patients
The scientists examined the DNA of 2,244 corona patients in 208 intensive care units in Great Britain and compared these DNA sequences with the genome of thousands of control persons from the general population stored in a database.
According to Message At the university, the research team found significant differences in five genes from ICU patients compared to samples from healthy volunteers.
The genes – IFNAR2, TYK2, OAS1, DPP9, and CCR2 – explain in part why some people with COVID-19 get seriously ill while others have little or no symptoms.
Anti-inflammatory and antiviral
Since some genetic variants react similarly to certain drugs, the researchers were also able to predict the effects of drug treatments on patients.
For example, they showed that reducing the activity of the TYK2 gene protects against COVID-19. A class of anti-inflammatory drugs called JAK inhibitors, which contain the drug baricitinib, create this effect.
They also discovered that increasing the activity of the INFAR2 gene is likely to provide protection as well, as it could mimic the effects of treatment with interferon proteins, which are released by cells in the immune system to fight off viruses.
However, experts point out that patients may need treatment early if it is to work.
Based on the information published in the specialist journal “Nature“Published results say the researchers that clinical trials should focus on drugs that target these specific antiviral and anti-inflammatory pathways.
Which drugs should be tested
“As with sepsis and influenza, the damage to the lungs in Covid-19 is more caused by our own immune system than by the virus itself,” explains Dr. Kenneth Baillie from the University of Edinburgh. The study results “show the way to important drug targets,” says the scientist.
“Our results immediately show which drugs should be at the top of the list for clinical testing. We can only test a few drugs at the same time, so making the right decisions will save thousands of lives, ”said Dr. Baillie.
“Covid-19 is the greatest public health challenge in a century. Every day we learn more about this virus, ”says Lord Bethell, Minister for Innovation and a graduate of the University of Edinburgh.
“Research like this is a huge step forward in further improving our understanding of COVID-19 and protecting the most vulnerable – and ultimately saving lives around the world.”
And Dr. Jonathan Pearce of the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) added: “By identifying genes associated with severe COVID-19, even in young patients with no known underlying health problems, we can improve research into new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches accelerate. “(ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.
- University of Edinburgh: Genes could be key to new Covid-19 treatments, (Abruf: 14.12.2020), University of Edinburgh
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This article is for general guidance only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.