Covid-19: Genetic and immunological predispositions revealed

September 30, 2020

San Raffaele Teaching Hospital and Research Institute participated with a consortium of more than 50 sequencing centers and hundreds of hospitals around the world at the COVID Human Genetic Effort (CovidHGE), which resulted with a breakthrough discovery mentioned in the Science Journal about the genetic and immunological predisposition in healthy patients who develop severe forms of Covid 19 infection.

The study showed that more than 10% of the healthy patients who suffered from severe forms of the infection bear dysfunctional antibodies that attack the immune system instead of the virus, making it less effective in the fight against infection, while 3.5% carry a predisposing genetic mutation.

In both cases, the problem appears to be caused by a reduction in the functionality of type I interferon, which in the first group of patients is neutralized by the auto-antibodies, while in the second it is produced in small quantities due to the genetic mutation.

 “The study will help to suggest targeted therapeutic solutions for specific groups of patients – says Prof. Alessandro Aiuti, deputy director of the San Raffaele Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy (SR-Tiget), this is only the first result, but it is already very promising”

These results open a door to another important clinical study taking place at the San Raffaele which will test the administration of interferon beta (a type of interferon I usually used for Multiple Sclerosis or chronic forms of hepatitis) in covid-19 severe patients.

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