DDI’s Chief Scientific Officer, Prof Fahd Al-Mulla, and his team of scientific researchers utilized the Institute’s genetic sequencing capabilities to investigate the variations of the COVID-19 cell signaling mechanism.
The team used whole-exome sequences, or protein coding genes, from 1,378 samples of individuals from Kuwait, Qatar and Iran. The team found two variations in the ACE2 gene, that increase the aggressiveness of the virus. These variant were mostly found in the European populations, making them more likely to be severely affected by the virus.
Middle Eastern populations, however, have a gene, FURIN gene, variation that may present protective qualities. This may explain why the Middle East has not seen as alarming death rates when compared to other countries.
Prof Fahd Al-Mulla states in the NatureAsia article that ‘it is possible these variations, amongst others, might help explain the apparently different COVID-19 mortality rates between continents, and are worthy of further investigation.’
To read this article, visit Nature Middle East.