Home Science & Technology Genetic links between severe COVID-19 and other diseases have been identified. ...

Genetic links between severe COVID-19 and other diseases have been identified. – Researcher

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A new analysis of data from the Veterans Affairs Million Veteran Program has identified a genetic link between the severity of COVID-19 and certain diseases that are known risk factors for severe COVID-19. Anurag Verma of Corporal Michael Crescent VA Medical Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, and his colleagues present these findings on April 28.th in an open access journal GENETICS PLOS.

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Some people with COVID-19 experience the disease more severely than others. Previous studies have identified specific variants of specific human genes that are associated with a person experiencing more severe COVID-19. Some of these options may also be related to other diseases that may already be well understood; identifying these common options may improve understanding of COVID-19 and shed light on potential new treatments.

To identify common options, Verma and colleagues used an unprecedented set of genotypic information related to electronic medical record (EHR) data for more than 650,000 U.S. veterans. They conducted a type of analysis known as the PheWAS (PheWAS) to examine the links between options common in veterans who have suffered severe COVID-19 and options associated with a wide variety of diseases.


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The analysis showed that some variants associated with COVID-19 are also associated with known risk factors for COVID-19. Particularly strong associations were found for options related to venous embolism and thrombosis, as well as type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease – two known risk factors for COVID-19.

The analysis also found genetic links between severe COVID-19 and neutropenia for veterans of African and Hispanic descent; these references did not appear for those of European descent.

Among respiratory diseases, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and chronic alveolar lung disease have common genetic links to severe COVID-19, but other respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) do not. Some variants associated with severe COVID-19 have also been associated with a reduced risk of autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis and lupus. These findings underscore the need to carefully weigh various aspects of the immune system when developing new treatments.

Despite some limitations of the PheWAS method, these findings may help deepen understanding of COVID-19 and guide the development of new treatments.

Verma concludes: “The study demonstrates the value and impact of large biobanks linking genetic variation to EHR data in the public health response to current and future pandemics. The MVP is one of the most diverse cohorts in the United States. We had the unique opportunity to scan thousands of states documented before the COVID-19 pandemic. We gained insight into the genetic architecture of COVID-19 risk factors and disease complications. ”

“One thing that has stood out for us is the large number of immune-mediated conditions that share the genetic architecture with the severe manifestations of COVID-19,” adds co-author Catherine Liao. “The nature of the associations has found out how the SARS-CoV2 virus puts pressure on the pressure point in a person’s immune system and its constant balance of fighting infection, while maintaining sufficient control so that it also does not become an autoimmune process attacking itself.”

Image credit: Anurag Verma, Catherine Liao and Scott Damrauer (CC-BY 4.0, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)