Genetics May Play a Role in Asymptomatic COVID-19 Cases, According to Researchers
Researchers from the University of California – San Francisco and Australia have made an intriguing discovery while studying COVID-19 cases. They found that genetics may play a crucial role in individuals who test positive for the virus but never experience any symptoms. These individuals, referred to as “super dodgers,” do not go through common symptoms like a runny nose or sore throat.
The study focused on a specific gene variation linked to the human leukocyte antigen (HLA), which was found to be more prevalent in asymptomatic individuals compared to those who developed symptoms. The genetic variant aids virus-killing T cells in identifying and attacking SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19.
What’s interesting is that some T cells carrying this genetic variant can recognize the novel coronavirus even without previous exposure. This is because the virus shares similarities with familiar seasonal cold viruses. The research involved screening nearly 30,000 unvaccinated individuals using a mobile app designed to track COVID-19 symptoms.
Among those tested, individuals with the HLA-B*15:01 genetic variant were found to be more likely to remain asymptomatic after infection. Surprisingly, this variant is relatively common, present in about 10% of the study’s population. While this genetic variation doesn’t prevent the virus from infecting cells, it blocks individuals from developing symptoms.
Furthermore, the study collaborated with La Trobe University in Australia to study T-cell memory. Researchers observed that T cells from individuals carrying the HLA-B15 variant responded effectively to a part of the novel coronavirus called the NQK-Q8 peptide. This immune response is believed to be a result of prior exposure to seasonal coronaviruses with a similar peptide, enabling a faster and more effective response to SARS-CoV-2.
These findings have significant implications for the development of drugs and vaccines. By understanding this immune response, scientists can target specific genes and develop more effective treatments and preventative measures against COVID-19. This research opens up new avenues for promoting immune protection and developing future vaccines and drugs.
Further research will be necessary to fully comprehend this immune response and its potential for combating the virus. However, these findings provide hope for the development of innovative solutions that could help control the spread of COVID-19 and protect individuals from severe symptoms.
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