They identify a gene that protects against severe forms of Covid-19

Why do young and healthy people end up in intensive care after contamination by SARS-CoV-2 while other people, a priori more fragile, get by with a simple cold? The answer may well be in our genes!

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The Covid-19 disease is very mysterious. Some will be asymptomatic or have a mild cold, while others will remain in intensive care or even die from the disease. Yes risk factor’s have been identified, such as obesity, diabetes or age, some young and healthy patients are struck by the SARS-CoV-2 incomprehensibly

Our genetic inheritance could well explain these inter-individual differences. A study recently revealed a gene that doubles the risk of dying from a pollution by SARS-CoV-2. This gene is present in 61% of Asians while it is present in only 16% of Europeans. Other study suggests that people who express more Genoa TYK2 and CCR2, involved in the inflammatory response, are more likely to die from Covid-19. On January 13, 2022, a new article was published in the prestigious magazine Nature. This time, it is a segment of DNA that codes for genes in the immune system that would protect grave forms of Covid-19 that has been identified.

A segment of DNA that protects against severe forms.

The corresponding DNA segment, located in the chromosome 12, in chromosome region 12q24.13, would be inherited from Neanderthals. To identify the protective DNA segment, the researchers looked at 20,779 hospitalized patient records, including patients of African and European descent. This is the first study of this scale that manages to integrate patients of African origin. Having the protective segment reduces the risk of developing a critical form of the disease by 23%. More interesting still, 80% of people of African descent are carriers of the protective fragment. Which could explain why the virus is less devastating on this continent.

A segment involved in the immune response.

The protective segment is 75 kb long and codes for three genes: OAS1, OAS2 and OAS3, genes of the immune system. In people with the protective variant, protein of the OAS1 gene would be 60% longer. Its mission is to dissect SARS-CoV-2. The longer it is, the more effective it is in its fight against the virus.

Better understanding the genetic mechanisms that explain why some people defend themselves better than others against SARS-CoV-2 could allow:

  • on the one hand, to identify in advance the people who are going to have a severe form of the disease for better care, more targeted to patients who need it
  • on the other hand to develop new drugs healing.

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