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Genes could be key to new Covid-19 treatments, study finds

Genes could be key to new Covid-19 treatments, study finds

Researchers supported by NIHR have identified potential treatments for COVID-19 after the discovery of five genes associated with the most severe form of the disease.

Genetic evidence is second only to clinical trials as a way to tell which treatments will be effective in a disease. Existing drugs that target the actions of the genes reveal which drugs should be repurposed to treat COVID-19 in clinical trials, experts say.

Genes involved in two molecular processes - antiviral immunity and lung inflammation - were pinpointed. The breakthrough will help doctors understand how Covid-19 damages lungs at a molecular level. The findings are now published in Nature.

Experts from the GenOMICC consortium – a global collaboration to study genetics in critical illness – compared the genetic information of Covid-19 patients in ICU with samples provided by healthy volunteers from other studies, such as UK Biobank, Generation Scotland and 100,000 Genomes.

Researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh made the discovery by studying the DNA of 2,700 patients in 208 intensive care units (ICUs) in the UK, including 211 at hospitals in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes and Oxfordshire.

Read more on the NIHR website.