Researchers at the Belvitage Institute for Biomedical Research (IDIBELL) have identified two new variants of the TLR7 gene that may underlie a greater predisposition to developing more severe COVID-19, especially among healthy young adults.
According to the EFE news agency, the discovery may explain why some healthy young people develop severe pneumonia due to the novel coronavirus.
The institute explained in a statement that the study, which also included experts from the Catalan Institute of Oncology, University Hospital Belveig, University of Barcelona and Radboud University in the Netherlands, reaffirms the need for genetic screening to improve management. COVID-19 patients and intervention in a targeted manner.
Published in Frontiers in Immunology, the work analyzed the presence of variants in the TLR7 gene in 14 young adults, without a clinical history, who required artificial ventilation to treat COVID-19.
Whole sequencing of the TLR7 gene showed that two of the patients had two new, as yet uncharacterised, variants in this gene.
Moreover, the male siblings of these two patients also had the same variants and suffered from a severe form of COVID-19.
“Diagnosing TLR7 deficiency can not only help select the best treatment for the patient, but can also help identify those at risk before symptoms and implement early therapeutic interventions,” stressed the leader of the genetic cancer group at IDIBELL and the Catalan Oncology Institute and one of the project leaders, Conxi Lazaro.
On the other hand, the principal investigator at IDIBELL and a specialist in internal medicine at De Belvet Hospital, Xavir Solanich, noted, “These findings confirm the key role of the TLR7 gene in recognizing SARS-CoV-2 and initiating an early response of the antiviral immune system.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused at least 4,163,235 deaths worldwide, among more than 194.1 million cases of the novel coronavirus, according to AFP’s latest balance sheet.
In Portugal, since the beginning of the epidemic, in March 2020, 17,301 people died and 954669 cases of infection were recorded, according to the Directorate General of Health.
The respiratory disease is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which was discovered in late 2019 in Wuhan, a city in central China, and currently with variants identified in countries such as the United Kingdom, India, South Africa, Brazil and Peru.
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