CM – US study identifies the genes that fight coronavirus infections

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Tom Yun
CTVNews.ca writer

@ Thetomyun
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TORONTO –
A new study identified the genes in humans that help fight coronavirus infections. This could be the first step in finding new treatment options for patients with severe COVID-19.

Researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys, California, published a study in Molecular Cell last Tuesday that identified 65 genes that control replication of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 virus.


These genes are called interferon-stimulated genes and they refer to interferons. the proteins produced by the body to fight off viruses.

« We wanted to gain a better understanding of the cellular response to SARS-CoV-2, including what triggers a strong or weak response to infection. » said lead author Sumit K. Chanda in a press release. « We have new insights into how the virus takes advantage of the human cells it invades, but we’re still looking for its Achilles heel so we can develop optimal antivirals. »

In addition to SARS-CoV-2, some of these genes were also found to affect numerous unrelated viruses such as seasonal flu, West Nile, and HIV.

One of the notable genes in humans is BST2, which the study calls a « potent inhibitor of SARS-CoV-2 replication ». Expression of this gene was found to reduce virus replication by 53 percent and virus release by 74 percent compared to control cells.

The researchers relied on the findings from the investigation of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-1, which was the cause of the fatal SARS outbreak between 2002 and 2004.

Of more than five dozen recently discovered genes, eight have been found to inhibit both SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-1.

« This is important information, but we still need to learn more about the biology of the virus, » study author Laura Martin-Sancho said in a press release, noting that more research needs to be done on whether the variability within these genes correlates to COVID -19 severity.

« It is critically important that we don’t take our foot off the pedals of basic research now that vaccines are helping control the pandemic, » said Chanda ????

This undated electron microscope image, released in February 2020 by the US -American National Institutes of Health, shows the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. THE CANADIAN PRESS / AP, NIAID-RML

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