Researchers have tied three common gene variants to increased risk of severe COVID-19, Science reports.
A University of Edinburgh-led team conducted a genome-wide association study of more than 2,000 patients with severe COVID-19. As they report in a preprint posted to MedRxiv, the researchers homed in on three loci: one within the DPP9 gene, which encodes dipeptidyl peptidase 9; one within a gene cluster encoding the antiviral restriction enzyme activators OAS1, OAS2, and OAS3; and one in the interferon receptor gene IFNAR2.
Science notes that the IFNAR2 variant the team uncovered is present in about a quarter of Europeans and raises the risk of severe disease by 30 percent, adding this finding is in line with a recent report that rare mutations in interferon genes like IFNAR2 are associated with severe disease. It further reports that the OAS gene cluster finding is more surprising, as the OAS genes encode proteins that activate enzymes that typically break down viral genomes.
Previous studies have also implicated regions on chromosome 3 and in the ABO blood locus.
Johns Hopkins University's Priya Duggal tells Science that while these common gene variants could point to treatments, their overall influence on who becomes ill may be limited.