(Reuters) – A gene that helps the coronavirus reproduce itself could contribute to life-threatening COVID-19 in young, otherwise healthy people, new findings suggest.
French researchers studied 72 hospitalized COVID-19 patients under age 50, including 47 who were critically ill and 25 with non-critical illness, plus 22 healthy volunteers. None of the patients had any of the chronic conditions known to increase the risk for poor outcomes, such as heart disease or diabetes.
Genetic analysis identified five genes that were significantly upregulated in the patients with critical illness, of which the most frequent was a gene called ADAM9.
As reported in Science Translational Medicine, the researchers saw the same genetic pattern in a separate group of 154 COVID-19 patients, including 81 who were critically ill.
Later, in lab experiments using human lung cells infected with the coronavirus, they found that blocking the activity of the ADAM9 gene made it harder for the virus to replicate.
More research is needed, they say, to confirm their findings and to determine whether it would be worthwhile to develop treatments to block ADAM9.
SOURCE: https://bit.ly/3ChjY09 Science Translational Medicine, online October 26, 2021.
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