As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact millions of lives globally, scientists and researchers are diligently working to uncover the mysteries behind the varying severity of the disease. One intriguing aspect that has captured the attention of experts is the presence of asymptomatic cases, where infected individuals show no symptoms of the virus. Recent studies, including one published in the renowned journal Nature, have shed light on the potential role of a specific gene in explaining why some people experience asymptomatic COVID-19 cases.
The Gene Behind Asymptomatic Cases
The gene that has emerged as a potential explanation for asymptomatic COVID-19 cases is known as HLA-B*15:01. This gene is linked to the immune system and plays a crucial role in enabling the body to differentiate between its own cells and foreign invaders.
Identifying the Percentage of Asymptomatic Patients
According to the study published in Nature, at least 20% of COVID-19 patients remain asymptomatic. This significant percentage highlights the need to understand the underlying factors that contribute to the absence of symptoms in these cases.
The Role of HLA-B*15:01 in Recognizing and Attacking the Virus
HLA-B*15:01 has been found to aid a specific type of immune cell known as T cells in quickly recognizing and attacking SARS-CoV2, the virus responsible for COVID-19. This enhanced immune response may be a key factor in preventing the development of noticeable symptoms.
The Role of COVID-19 Citizen Science Study App
To conduct their research, scientists used the COVID-19 Citizen Science Study app to recruit infected individuals. This mobile app served as a valuable tool in collecting data on HLA gene variants from a large pool of participants.
Increased Resilience in Double Variant Carriers
The study revealed that individuals possessing two copies of the HLA-B*15:01 variant were over eight times more likely to never develop COVID-19 symptoms. This finding suggests that the presence of double variants might confer increased resilience against the virus.
NQK-Q8 Peptide and Prior Exposure
Interestingly, even those who contracted COVID-19 for the first time still reacted to a specific part of the SARS-CoV2 called the NQK-Q8 peptide. This finding suggests that prior exposure to related coronaviruses might be contributing to a rapid and effective T cell response against SARS-CoV2.
A Strong Link Found
The study established a strong and significant link between the mutated HLA gene, HLA-B*15:01, and asymptomatic infection of SARS-CoV-2. While the results are promising, researchers also acknowledge the need for further investigation and caution that the data primarily focused on individuals who self-identified as white.
Month: Current Affairs - July, 2023
Category: Science & Technology Current Affairs