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BATTLE OF COVID: Some people may have genetic disposition for severe COVID illness

(KWWL) -- Two international studies published in Science, show that some people's genes may be responsible for their severe illness from COVID-19.

Our bodies' immune system response is like a little army, each soldier with their own job in battling a virus.

"It has to be a really good response because this virus grows quickly," said Dr. Stanley Perlman with the University of Iowa Healthcare.

In one of those studies 10% of nearly 1,000 COVID patients who developed life-threatening complications had antibodies that disable key immune system proteins called interferons.

"I thought if this was common we would see it in other infections and not just COVID," Perlman said.

Perlman explained that those particular antibodies had already been in the body but not active until a person was infected with COVID.

He also distinguished the difference between those antibodies and interferons, just one protein that helps sound the alarm when a virus enters the body.

Some researchers involved in the study refer to this as a "breakthrough" in understanding the COVID-19.

"It this could be done really quickly it could allow you to figure out who is going to get worse disease and who's not. We can't do that yet. We can't figure out the genome in days," Dr. Perlman said.

While UIHC didn't participate in these studies, they have a number of clinical trials in the works. Dr. Perlman offered us his expertise.

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Taylor Vessel

Multimedia Reporter

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