Alzheimer’s and Covid-19 share the genetic risk factor: UK study

A recent study conducted by University College London researchers identified a gene that affects both Alzheimer’s disease and severe Covid-19. The findings published in the journal Brain could pave the way for new targets for drug development for both diseases. 

After the study, researchers evaluate that one genetic variant of the gene OAS1, increases Alzheimer’s disease risk by roughly 3-6 percent in the general population, meanwhile the related deflections on the same gene increase the chances of severe outcomes.

The findings can be used to find new targets for drug development or tracking disease progression in either disease. According to researchers, the findings have potential benefits for other related infectious conditions and dementias. The study also highlights the possibility that treatments developed can be used to treat both conditions.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions. Researchers say that in patients with severe Covid-19 infection there can also be inflammatory changes in the brain that can be seen in Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers have identified a gene that can contribute to an exaggerated immune response to increase the risks of both Alzheimer’s and Covid-19.

The gene, which is named OAS1 is expressed in microglia. Microglia is a type of immune cell that constitutes around 10 percent of all cells found within the brain. The OAS1 gene variant called ‘rs1131454’, which affects people is related to Alzheimer’s disease and those people would have the effect of this disease which risks the life even. 

The newly found OAS1 gene has an effect on more than half of the Europeans and it is more predictive of Alzheimer’s risk than several known risk genes. According to several types of research, older people are more likely to affect Alzheimer’s disease and Covid-19, especially in European countries. So further research into the genetic network could help to understand why these groups are getting affected by the disease. 

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Our findings suggest that some people may have increased susceptibility to both Alzheimer’s disease and severe COVID-19, irrespective of their age, as some of our immune cells appear to engage a common molecular mechanism in both diseases,” UCL Ph.D. student Naciye Magusali added.