Scientists identify potential new treatments for COVID after discovering gene variants

Coronavirus will ‘thrive in winter’ says doctor

They compared the DNA of patients on intensive care wards with healthy people to identify genetic differences that could explain why some become desperately sick while others are barely affected. The analysis found key changes in five genes involved in antiviral defences and lung inflammation.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh then identified drugs that target those genes, which they hope could yield new treatments for thousands of patients.

Chief investigator Dr Kenneth Baillie said: “This is a stunning realisation of the promise of human genetics to help understand critical illness.

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“We can only test a few drugs at a time, so making the right choices will save thousands of lives.”

The study, published in the journal Nature, looked at the DNA of 2,700 patients in 208 intensive care units across the United Kingdom.

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