30+ genes identified that could protect us from COVID, opening door to gene therapy prevention solutions

covid genes
Credit: Matejmo/Getty Images

The goal was two-fold: to identify the genes that make human cells more resistant to SARS-CoV-2 virus; and test existing drugs on the market that may help stop the spread of the disease.

The breakthrough comes at a time when drug makers such as Pfizer, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Moderna are fast-forwarding vaccine and therapeutics to treat Covid-19.

After intensive research, the scientists and doctors claim they have found 30 genes that block the virus from infecting human cells including RAB7A, a gene that seems to regulate the ACE-2 receptor that the virus binds to and uses to enter the cell. The spike protein’s first contact with a human cell is through ACE-2 receptor.

“Our findings confirmed what scientists believe to be true about ACE-2 receptor’s role in infection; it holds the key to unlocking the virus,” said [virologist Dr. Benjamin] tenOever. “It also revealed the virus needs a toolbox of components to infect human cells. Everything must be in alignment for the virus to enter human cells.”

Related article:  Abbott expects to ship 90 million coronavirus antibody tests over next two months after FDA grants emergency approval
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The research team also identified drugs that are currently on the market for different diseases that they claim block the entry of Covid-19 into human cells by increasing cellular cholesterol. In particular, they found three drugs currently on the market were more than 100-fold more effective in stopping viral entry in human lung cells.

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