Recently, the first priority of the world has been to try and recover from this pandemic. However, with all of this, we have had the opportunity to look into and research the virus even more. This research has led to the identification of certain genes that significantly increase risk of getting COVID-19.
Having genetic variants in the ABO gene, researchers say, increases the chances of contracting COVID. Dr. Ana Hernandez Cordero at the Centre for Heart Lung innovation, along with her team, used integrative genomics combined with proteomics to identify these genes.
This method, called genomic research, is used to identify specific genes that are important in a said process. For example, it was used to identify which genes caused a significant increase in COVID-19 risk. However, this cannot be done by just looking at or studying the genes alone. Other tools need to be integrated for the researchers to get a better grasp on the specific genes they are looking for.
“DNA is a big, complex molecule and so, genetic associations alone cannot pinpoint the exact gene responsible for COVID-19,” said Dr. Hernandez. “However, by combining COVID-19 genetic information with gene expression and proteomic datasets, we can figure out which genes are driving the relationship with COVID-19.”
The science news website SciTechDaily describes the process to show what exactly the researchers were looking for.
“The researchers combined genetic information with an examination of lung gene expression to identify genetic variants that were controlling gene expression in the lung that were responsible for COVID-19. The researchers identified specific genes’ markers that share their effects on gene expression and protein levels with COVID-19 susceptibility. For the analysis, they used bioinformatics to integrate: (1) a genomic dataset obtained from patients who were infected with SARS-CoV-2 as well as non-infected individuals (controls); (2) lung and blood tissue gene expression datasets from clinical populations (non-COVID-19); and (3) a proteome dataset obtained from blood donors (non-COVID-19).”
The researchers suggest that everyone, whether they be at high risk or not, still take extra caution. However, this new knowledge about how genetics and our immune system will certainly help in future times to analyze those at risk.