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Blood Service researchers are investigating individual susceptibility to coronavirus infection

4/9/2020 11:00

The Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare (THL) has launched a new national study aimed at identifying how individual factors, such as genetics and lifestyle, affect the incidence of severe coronavirus infection. The Blood Service is involved in the project as a research organisation.

​The “Progression of individual COVID-19 infections (COVIDprog)” study is carried out through national cooperation. It examines how coronavirus infections progress in different people, and what kinds of symptoms an infection causes.
 
The study is led by Research Professor Markus Perola, Head of THL’s Genomics and Biobank Unit. It is carried out in cooperation between THL’s Genomics and BioBank unit, virologists at THL’s Health Security unit, the Finnish Institute of Molecular Medicine (FIMM) at the University of Helsinki, and the Blood Service. Biobanks are also involved in the study.
 
“In the Blood Service, we’re researching the genetic associations of HLA genes in the genomic information of coronavirus patients. Finnish competence in HLA imputation lies solely with the Blood Service, and the variation in HLA genes is perhaps the individual most interesting candidate for susceptibility to coronavirus,” explains Jukka Partanen, research director at the Blood Service.
 
The study will also participate in an international cooperation project as an independent study, "COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative", coordinated by FIMM. In the study, researchers worldwide will join forces to raise awareness of the characteristics of coronavirus infection.
 
Read THL's press release on the study!