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Covid Patients’ Genomes to Be Analyzed in U.K. Severity Study

May 12, 2020, 11:01 PM

Thousands of U.K. coronavirus patients will have their genomes sequenced as part of a scientific push to determine who’s most vulnerable to the virus’s deadliest symptoms and why.

DNA from some 35,000 patients ranging from mild cases to those needing intensive care will be deciphered and compared as part of the study, according to a statement. The research will be led by the National Health Service, Genomics England, equipment maker Illumina Inc. and the GenOMICC consortium, a group of doctors and scientists studying genetic aspects of critical illnesses.

As the coronavirus spreads around the world to more than 4 million people, doctors are still trying to understand why the infection can cause severe illness in some and leave other unscathed. While most children and young adults have been relatively unaffected by the pandemic, some have had severe illness.

Reading patients’ whole genomes may pinpoint “variation that affects response to Covid-19 and discover new therapies that could reduce harm, save lives and even prevent future outbreaks,” said Mark Caulfield, chief scientist at Genomics England, in the statement.

The researchers aim to include every Covid-19 patient admitted to intensive care in the U.K. Those who have recovered from Covid-19 can also volunteer to take part in the study. Patients will only be enrolled in the study with consent.

The project will be funded with 28 million pounds ($34 million) from Genomics England, U.K. Research and Innovation, the Department of Health and Social Care and the National Institute for Health Research. Illumina will sequence all 35,000 genomes and share some of the cost via an in-kind contribution.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Corinne Gretler in Zurich at cgretler1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Eric Pfanner at epfanner1@bloomberg.net

John Lauerman

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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