Genes associated with high risk of severe COVID-19

Scientists from PrecisionLife have found 68 genes associated with risk of developing severe COVID-19 by using its proprietary AI-enabled precision medicine platform to analyse the genomes of 929 patients who had a severe response to SARS-CoV-2.

Prior to an effective and widely available vaccine, PrecisionLife’s insights may help to identify patients who are at greatest risk of developing the most severe forms of COVID-19. They can inform the development of biomarker-driven tests, targeted shielding and new therapeutic strategies, with the aim of identifying high-risk people, reducing disease burden and improving survival rates.

Established genome-wide association studies (GWAS) approaches have been limited by the heterogeneous nature of COVID-19, making it difficult to explain the wide range of symptoms and impacts of predisposing co-morbidities associated with the disease. The study has overcome this barrier by evaluating combinations of genetic features, which is not possible with existing GWAS approaches.

Using a combinatorial (high-order epistasis) analysis approach, PrecisionLife identified 68 protein-coding genes that were highly associated with severe COVID-19, nine of which have been previously linked to differential response to SARS-CoV-2. These 68 genes include several protein targets and pathways, nine of which are targeted by drugs that have reached at least phase I clinical trials.

The graphic represents the disease architecture of the severe COVID-19 patient population generated by the PrecisionLife platform. Each circle represents a disease-associated SNP genotype in patients, and colours represent distinct patient subpopulations.