Polish scientists have identified a gene that more than doubles the risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19, a discovery they hope could help doctors identify people who are most at risk from the disease.
“After more than a year and a half of work it was possible to identify a gene responsible for a predisposition to becoming seriously ill (with coronavirus),” said Poland’s health minister Adam Niedzielski.
“This means that in the future we will be able to… identify people with a predisposition to suffer seriously from COVID.”
The gene is present in around 14% of the Polish population, compared to 8-9% in Europe as a whole and 27% in India, said Marcin Moniuszko, the professor in charge of the project.
The researchers from the Medical University of Bialystok found that the gene was the fourth most important factor determining how seriously a person suffers from COVID-19—after age, weight, and gender.
DNA test to be added to Covid screening
The Polish Health Ministry is planning to introduce a new type of screening for coronavirus after a gene was discovered that determines the likelihood of a patient suffering from severe or fatal Covid-19.
People most at risk of suffering the severest effects or even dying of coronavirus can be identified using a genetic test, health officials in Poland revealed this week. The study that resulted in the discovery was supported by the country’s Ministry of Health and Medical Research Agency, and involved around 1,500 patients with Covid-19. Researchers from the Medical University of Bialystok identified a gene in chromosome 3 that significantly influences how badly the virus will affect an individual.
“After more than a year and a half of work, it was possible to identify a gene responsible for a predisposition to becoming seriously ill [with Covid],” Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said at a press conference on Thursday.
The findings will now be applied to help identify patients at increased risk from the virus when or even before they contract the infection. The Health Ministry plans to develop and launch a “relatively simple” and quick genetic test that can be performed alongside PCR screening within a few months.
It could also be implemented around the world to help people with apparent genetic preconditions, Polish officials said. Read More