Thursday, April 22, 2021

Genetics Research for Early COVID-19 Treatment


Physician epidemiologist, Dr. Juan P. Casas, has led research on two proteins to be targeted by therapeutic drugs for early COVID-19 management. The two proteins of interest are IFNAR2 and ACE2. The IFNAR2 protein is a drug target for people with central nervous system diseases. ACE2 drug therapy will reduce inflammatory responses for people with severe respiratory disorders. Manipulating these two proteins via drug treatment will reduce the worsening of symptoms and ultimately keep patients out of the hospital. The reasoning for utilizing human genetics for this study was due to 90% of drugs on the market target human proteins. Therefore, if another organism's genetics were used in this study, it may be discredited as "natural randomized trials" instead of direct evidence for human COVID-19 management. The study gathered genetic data from 7,500 hospitalized COVID-19 patients and over 1 million COVID-free controls. After analyzing the genes of the population, researchers narrowed down which drugs would be most effective. The drug that targets ACE2 is called APN01 which mimics the protein and causes the virus to attach to the drug instead of ACE2. The drug that targets IFNAR2 is a type-I interferon, more specifically an interferon beta. Interferon betas commonly treat patient with multiple sclerosis by controlling inflammation. Researchers concluded that people with a specific IFNAR2 variant were less likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 than people lacking the variant. Even amongst the influx of vaccinations, Casas believes COVID-19 drugs are necessary until herd immunity is achieved and due to COVID-19 variants. Researchers know that they are not done with COVID-19 just yet.


Gaziano, L., Giambartolomei, C., Pereira, A.C. et al. Actionable druggable genome-wide Mendelian randomization identifies repurposing opportunities for COVID-19. Nat Med 27, 668–676 (2021).

O'Neill, M. (2021, April 14). Researchers Use Genetics To Identify Potential Drugs for Early Treatment of COVID-19. Retrieved from

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