21 January 2022

Professor Marcin Moniuszko MD, PhD (Medical University of Bialystok), Credit: Medical University of Bialystok.

Age, obesity, and sex play a role in the course of COVID-19. Scientists from the Medical University of Bialystok have identified a genetic variant that doubles the risk of severe COVID-19 and COVID-related death.

The research that revealed the new information about severe COVID-19 symptoms was conducted as part of a research project called “An analysis of the SARS-CoV-2 genome and the genome of patients with COVID-19 in order to uncover a set of genetic markers determining individual sensitivity to SARS-CoV-2 infection and the severity of the disease” lead by Prof. Marcin Moniuszko, MD, PhD (Medical University of Bialystok) and Mirosław Kwaśniewski, Md, PhD (Medical University of Bialystok, IMAGENE.ME).

As announced by the University, it was possible to identify the genetic variant that more than doubles the risk of severe COVID-19 and COVID-19-related death. It is estimated that as many as 14% of Polish people carry the gene, although it occurs in approx. 9% of the European population. According to the authors of the new discovery, it can help in establishing early which patients are affected the most. The research has shown that aside from age and obesity, a more important factor determining a severe course of COVID-19, compared to comorbidities, is our genetic profile. Carrying one the gene variants located in chromosome 3 doubles the risk of severe and lethal COVID-19 in case of an infection.

The research included almost 1,5 thousand patients with COVID-19, as part of a project funded by the Medical Research Agency. It was lead by the Medical University of Bialystok jointly with a technological partner (the IMAGENE.ME company), the Institute of Pulmonary Diseases and Tuberculosis in Warsaw, but the large involvement of a dozen clinical sites from the whole country was especially significant.

The results have been announced during a press conference held at the Medical University of Bialystok on 13th January 2022. Aside from the scientists, its attendees included the Polish Minister of Health, Adam Niedzielski, PhD, and the President of the Medical Research Agency, Radosław Sierpiński, MD, PhD.

Although the results of our research are still just a scientific discovery, we sincerely hope that it will lead to the development of a test identifying which patients are in risk of severe COVID-19 and that it will be easily accessible to patients, physicians, and diagnosticians. This test could make it possible to identify patients who are prone to the severe course of COVID-19, even before they get infected. This way such patients would receive special care, more preventative measures (additional booster shots), and medical care (new SARS-CoV-2 treatments)suggests Prof. Marcin Moniuszko.

The research should ideally result in developing an appropriate genetic test that, similarly to the PCR test, will quickly identify whether the patient is carrying the gene that increases the risk of severe and lethal COVID-19.


The full content of the press release is available on the university website: https://www.umb.edu.pl/en/main_news/24859,Genes_significantly_influence_the_manner_of_recovering_from_COVID-19_An_important_discovery_of_the_MUB_scientists