Scientists discover 28 new risk genes for COVID-19
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New Delhi: An international research consortium has discovered 28 new risk factors for COVID-19, pushing the total number of candidate genes identified by the initiative up to 51.

The researchers noted that many criteria determine whether or not we get seriously ill from COVID-19. Besides our age and any previous or existing conditions, they also include genetic factors.

“Knowing about genetic risk factors helps scientists to develop successful drugs and predict risks better,” said Kerstin Ludwig from the University Hospital Bonn, Germany.

In order to identify genes of this kind, however, researchers need huge groups of patients, who are rarely all in the same place at the same time.

This was why the COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative (COVID-19 HGI) was launched as a large-scale international project at the start of the pandemic. It aims to collate data from individual studies being set up all over the world and investigate it all together.

The latest findings covering 82 individual studies by COVID-19 HGI have been published in the journal Nature. The study features contributions from a total of 3,669 authors from across the globe.

The consortium is being co-led by the Broad Institute in the US and the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM).

“The consortium has successfully identified 51 risk factors in all, 28 of which are new since the previous publication,” said Axel Schmidt, who was responsible for data analysis.

“We also coordinated collaboration with the other university hospitals in Germany that were contributing in order to get even more patients involved in the study,” Ludwig added.

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The COVID-19 HGI published its initial results in the journal Nature in December 2021, adding its first update in August 2022.

The latest publication thus represents the second update and is expected to be the final part of the documentation.

“With 82 studies from 35 countries and over 200,000 participants in the largest subgroup, the data pool is the biggest to date,” Ludwig added.

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