Scottish scientists have helped identify DNA variations linked to those who need critical care when infected with coronavirus.
Smokers and those with a higher body mass index (BMI) were also found to suffer from acute Covid-19, the researchers reported.
The global study, involving scientists from the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, helps explain why some people become seriously ill with coronavirus.
The researchers compared the genetic data of almost 50,000 Covid-19 patients from 25 countries with samples from healthy volunteers.
The study found 13 DNA variations linked with developing the most severe coronavirus symptoms and goes some way to explaining why others are unaffected.
Two of the 13 genetic markers identified so far occur more often in patients of East Asian or South Asian ancestry than in those of European heritage, the research found.
One of these two is linked to lung cancer increasing the gene’s activity, suggesting inhibiting it could be used for treatment, experts said.
GenOMICC (Genetics of Susceptibility and Mortality in Critical Care), a study led by the University of Edinburgh and involving Roslin scientists, contributed data to the initiative.
Research will identify more gene regions associated with infection and severe disease and will begin to study which factors lead symptoms to persist in some patients for months.