Published on March 2, 2021

Ahmedabad: Gujaratis may want to blame the ‘foreign gene variants’ behind the high morbidity and mortality among the Covid-19 patients in Gujarat, but it could be their own specific genetic makeup, revealed a study carried out by state government-run Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre (GBRC).

A paper titled ‘Host genetic factors for Covid-19 severity and outcome in western Indian population’ by Prof C G Joshi, Dr Ramesh Pandit and Afzal Ansari among others has been accepted for publication in the prestigious Lancet. The paper says that three gene variants with higher prevalence in European countries were found responsible for high degree of death and disease.

“We identified a total ten, thirteen, and ten unique genomic loci (groups) for deceased vs recovered, deceased vs asymptomatic and recovered vs asymptomatic groups, respectively,” said a researcher from GBRC.

‘Patient gene variants affected morbidity in Gujarat’

AHMEDABAD: A study carried out by a team from Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre (GBRC) along with other Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar-based research institutes revealed that the high mortality in Gujarat in early phase of the pandemic and high morbidity in several patients could be attributed to host gene variants.

In a paper to be published soon, the team mentioned, ‘Three unfavourable alleles (gene variants) that cause higher morbidity and mortality in Gujarat have shown higher frequency in European countries compared to South Asian populations. Likewise, the reverse is true for five variants that reduce morbidity and mortality.’

The present study mentioned that three genomic loci such as AX-11318356, AX-11403743 and AX-11509434 which were found prevalent among the European countries with high mortality were also found among the local population.

The researchers carried out entire genomic sequencing for 571 confirmed Covid-19 patients – 94 deceased, 320 recovered and 147 asymptomatic – from 25 hospitals across Gujarat between May and July 2020.

‘TNFSF4, LRRC56 and TUBD1 genes have shown an association in deceased vs recovered,’ mentioned the study. ‘This study will further help to design vaccine and drug strategies against SARS-CoV-2 infection for western Indian population.’

The researchers pointed at the fact that Covid-19 variants and how they connect with the human hosts decide the severity of the infection. Experts believe that thorough study of both the virus and the host is needed.

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