Researchers who studied the DNA of 2,700 Covid-19 patients in 208 intensive care units across Britain found that five genes involving in two molecular processes – antiviral immunity and lung inflammation – were central to many severe cases. Their research also highlighted several existing drugs that could be repurposed to treat people who risk getting critically ill because of Covid-19.
The genes – called IFNAR2, TYK2, OAS1, DPP9, and CCR2 – partially explain why some people become desperately sick with Covid-19, while others are not affected, said Kenneth Baillie, an academic consultant in critical care medicine at Edinburgh University who co-led the research. He went on to say that “Our results immediately highlight which drugs should be at the top of the list for clinical testing.”.
So far, a steroid called dexamethasone and a newly developed antiviral drug called remdesivir, made by Gilead, are the only drugs authorized around the world to treat Covid-19 patients – although remdesivir is not recommended for severe cases of the disease and has had mixed results in trials. Fortunately, the findings, published, in the journal Nature, should help scientists speed up the search for potential drugs for Covid-19 by conducting clinical trials of medicines that target specific antiviral and anti-inflammatory pathways.