Scientists have analyzed the relationship of various genetic variants with the severe course of COVID-19 in 2,244 patients in intensive care wards of different hospitals in the UK. They compared the genomes of critically ill patients with those of people from the control group, information about which is available in the British Biobank.
The authors of the study focused on single nucleotide polymorphism: this is the name for differences in the sequence of nucleotides in DNA (its smallest structural units). Changes in this sequence may be associated with the risk of various pathologies.
The study found that there are eight genetic sequences that are more common in people who have had severe COVID-19 than others. One of these genetic variants has not been previously described.
The genetic variants found have been linked to genes that are involved in the body’s inflammatory response to viral infections. The analysis showed that they can indeed participate in the processes that accompany the severe course of coronavirus infection. He confirmed that genes TYK2 and CCR2, which code for inflammatory mediators, may contribute to the severity of infection.
New data support the hypothesis that the severe course of COVID-19 is associated with how the human body’s defense against viruses works, and with how active inflammatory processes are. The study authors point out that there are drugs that can influence these mechanisms. For example, the drug barcitinib was developed to affect TYK2 in rheumatoid arthritis. There are also monoclonal antibodies that block CCR2 (these drugs only went through the early phases of research – also for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis). Large studies are required to assess their effect on COVID-19.