• Sun. Dec 4th, 2022

Covid, a Neanderthal genetic risk mutation, may protect against HIV.


A study led by a team from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and Max Planck Institute in Germany found that a Covid-19 risk variant inherited from Neanderthals can reduce a person’s risk of contracting HIV by 27%.Some people become seriously ill when infected with SARS-CoV-2, while others have only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.Our genetic heritage may contribute to individual Covid-19 severity risk.

As a result, it may have had a beneficial effect on its carriers in the past.
Hugo Zeberg of Karolinska Institutet says, “This large genetic risk factor for Covid-19A is so frequent that I started thinking if it would potentially be useful for anything, like offering protection against another infectious disease.”

The genetic risk factor is found in an area on chromosome 3 that contains several genes, according to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
There are numerous genes in the area that code for immune system receptors. The HIV virus uses one of these receptors, CCR5, to infect white blood cells. People with the Covid-19 risk factor had less CCR5 receptors, according to Zeberg.

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This prompted him to investigate whether they were also at a decreased risk of contracting HIV. He discovered that carriers of the Covid-19 risk mutation had a 27% decreased chance of developing HIV after analysing patient data from three major biobanks (FinnGen, UK Biobank, and Michigan Genomic Initiative). “This demonstrates how a genetic mutation may be both good and terrible news,” Zeberg explained. “Bad news if a person acquires Covid-19, wonderful news since it protects against HIV infection.” However, since HIV first emerged in the twentieth century, immunity to the infectious disease cannot explain why the Covid-19 genetic risk mutation became so widespread among humans as early as 10,000 years ago.

“We now know that this Covid-19 risk variation protects against HIV infection. However, it was most likely protection against another sickness that became more common during the previous ice age “According to Zeberg.

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