DNA test could show if patient will survive Covid — Action News Now

A simple genetic test can identify those most at risk of contracting the coronavirus, health officials say

Poland’s Ministry of Health plans to introduce a new coronavirus screening method after discovering a gene that determines a patient’s likelihood of developing severe or deadly Covid-19.

Polish health officials revealed this week that those most likely to suffer the worst effects and even die from the coronavirus can be identified by genetic testing. The research that led to the discovery was supported by the country’s health and medical research agency and involved about 1,500 Covid-19 patients. Researchers at the Medical University of Bialystok have discovered a gene on chromosome 3 that significantly influences how the virus affects an individual.

After more than a year and a half of work, it may be possible to identify a gene that contributes to a predisposition to severe illness [with Covid],” Health Minister Adam Nizielsky said at a news conference on Thursday.

The findings will now be used to help identify patients who were at increased risk of contracting the virus when or even before. The Ministry of Health plans to develop and launch “easier” and a rapid genetic test that can be performed alongside PCR screening within a few months.

Polish officials say it could also be implemented around the world to help people with obvious genetic preconditions.

This is a step towards personalized medicine, the medicine of the future – when we understand our genome, we know what harm can be done to our health,” Joanna Zajkoska, a professor at the University of Bialystok, told Polish Radio.

According to genetic individual susceptibility studies led by Marcin Moniuszko and Miroslaw Kwasniewski, if at least one version of the gene is present in the chromosome, a patient is more than double the likelihood of being most severely affected by Covid-19 or dying. This gene is the fourth most important factor in acute disease and is said to be a more important risk factor than comorbidities. According to the study, it came after age, obesity and gender (men are believed to be more susceptible to Covid-19 than women).

In Europe, the gene is present in about every 10 people, while in India, the proportion is almost three times higher, with about 27% of the population genetically predisposed to contracting severe Covid-19. In Poland, where the virus has a higher mortality rate than the EU average, about 14% of the population carries the gene.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been trying to understand why, even among people of a similar age, some are asymptomatically infected while others are fighting for their lives,” said a spokesman for the university.Thanks to this research, we are getting closer to understanding this phenomenon. “

The Polish study is not the first to suggest a correlation between certain genetic factors and a patient’s response to Covid-19. A 2020 genome-wide analysis of Italians and Spaniards investigated blood group and chromosome 3 gene clusters associated with coronavirus-induced respiratory failure. Extreme susceptibility to severe disease has been found in people with certain DNA markers, while studies have also shown that people with blood type A are at higher risk of respiratory failure due to the new coronavirus.

Other studies in Germany have also found associations between gene clusters on the same chromosome and the risk of serious infection. A mutation that helps resist RNA viruses, inherited by some of our Neanderthal ancestors, has been discovered.