GS Paper - 2 (Diseases)

Researchers at the Medical Research Council Weather all Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford; have identified the gene responsible for doubling the risk of respiratory failures from COVID-19. This gene — called LZTFL1 — can be found in 60 percent of people with South Asian ancestry and the researchers say that it may be able to explain the excess deaths seen in some of the UK communities and the impact of pandemic during the second wave in India.

What the study found

  1. The gene is possibly just one factor that could have led to these outcomes, since socio-economic factors also partly explain why some communities were more severely impacted by the disease.
  2. For instance, while 60 percent of people with South Asian ancestry carry this gene, 15 percent of those with European ancestry carry it and two percent of people with Afro-Caribbean ancestry also carry it.
  3. Therefore, this gene does not explain the higher death rates that were reported for black people and some minority ethnic communities.
  4. The team first trained an artificial intelligence algorithm, which analysed huge quantities of genetic data from hundreds of types of cells from all parts of the body. This showed that this genetic signal was likely to affect cells present in the lung.