Oxford University Researchers use AI to uncover a gene that doubles the risk of death from COVID-19.
The researchers analyzed vast quantities of genetic data from hundreds of different types of cells from all over the body with an artificial intelligence tool, suggesting that the genetic signal is likely to harm lung cells. The researchers could then use a highly accurate approach they had developed to zoom in on the DNA at the genetic signal.
The goal of this study was to figure out which gene was regulated by the sequence that elevated the chance of severe COVID-19 by looking at how billions of DNA letters fold up to fit inside a cell.
‘Surprisingly, as several other genes were suspected, the data showed that a relatively unstudied gene called LZTFL1 causes the effect.’ Dr Damien Downes commented.
The researchers discovered that the higher-risk form of the gene hinders the cells that line the airways and lungs from adequately reacting to the virus.
The Oxford University researchers’ findings explain that sixty percent of persons of South Asian heritage have this higher-risk variant of the gene, compared to only 15 percent of those of European ancestry, which may explain why the former group has higher death rates and hospitalizations.
The study also found that 2% of people of Afro-Caribbean ancestry had the higher risk genotype, suggesting that the genetic component alone does not completely explain why black and minority ethnic communities had higher death rates.