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Sep 25, 2020

Some severe COVID-19 cases linked to genetic mutations or antibodies that attack the body

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics

Very interesting!

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“The plan was to scan patients’ genomes—in particular, a set of 13 genes involved in interferon immunity against influenza. In healthy people, interferon molecules act as the body’s security system. They detect invading viruses and bacteria and sound the alarm, which brings other immune defenders to the scene.

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Casanova’s team has previously discovered [genetic mutations](https://medicalxpress.com/tags/genetic+mutations/) that hinder interferon production and function. People with these mutations are more vulnerable to certain pathogens, including those that cause influenza. Finding similar mutations in people with COVID-19, the team thought, could help doctors identify patients at risk of developing severe forms of the disease. It could also point to new directions for treatment, he says.”

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“As the researchers began analyzing patient samples, they started to uncover harmful mutations, in people young and old. The team found that 23 out of 659 patients studied carried errors in genes involved in producing antiviral interferons.”

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“That thought sparked a new idea. Maybe other patients with severe COVID-19 also lacked interferons—but for a different reason. Maybe some patients’ bodies were harming these molecules themselves.”

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“The team’s analysis of 987 patients with life-threatening COVID-19 revealed just that. At least 101 of the patients had auto-antibodies against an assortment of interferon proteins. “We said, ‘bingo’!” Casanova remembers. These antibodies blocked interferon action and were not present in patients with mild COVID-19 cases, the researchers discovered.”

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“. By testing for the presence of these antibodies, she says, “you can almost predict who will become severely ill.”” https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-09-severe-covid-case…netic.html


People infected by the novel coronavirus can have symptoms that range from mild to deadly. Now, two new analyses suggest that some life-threatening cases can be traced to weak spots in patients’ immune systems.

At least 3.5 percent of study patients with severe COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, have mutations in genes involved in antiviral defense. And at least 10 percent of patients with severe disease create “auto-antibodies” that attack the immune system, instead of fighting the virus. The results, reported in two papers in the journal Science on September 24, 2020, identify some root causes of life-threatening COVID-19, says study leader Jean-Laurent Casanova, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator at The Rockefeller University.

Seeing these harmful antibodies in so many patients—101 out of 987—was “a stunning observation,” he says. “These two papers provide the first explanation for why COVID-19 can be so severe in some people, while most others infected by the same virus are okay.”

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