A team of British scientists has identified a version of a gene that could be associated with twice the risk of lung failure from COVID-19.
Researchers now believe this could help them discover why some people are more susceptible to serious illnesses than others.
It is a high-risk genetic variant found in a chromosomal region that is also associated with a double risk of death in coronavirus-infected patients under 60 years of age.
How does it work?
This gene is known as LZTFL1 and prevents the cells that line the airways and lungs from protecting themselves against the virus.
According to scientists at Harvard University, this gene predominates in South Asia, since 60 percent of people with ancestry in this region possess the gene. Meanwhile, only 15 percent of people of European descent have it.
According to the researchers, this could explain why the pandemic has left so many fatalities in Asian territory.
Those responsible for the research explain that the increased risk of the disease is due to differences in DNA, which acts as a kind of switch to activate the gene.
“We found that the increased risk is not due to a difference in the gene that codes for a protein, but to a difference in the DNA that makes a change to activate a gene. It is much more difficult to detect the gene affected by this type of indirect switching effect, ”says Jim Hughes, lead author of the study.
However, the researchers explain that no single gene can explain all aspects of a person’s risk for a disease such as COVID-19.
The authors explain that many factors influence, including age, health conditions and even socioeconomic characteristics.
Research also states that this gene does not affect the immune system that produces antibodies to fight infection and that people who possess it should respond well to the COVID-19 vaccine.