A group of researchers coordinated by the University of California San Francisco may have revealed one of the most enigmatic points of the SarsCov2 virus: what causes its infection to cause no symptoms in some people.
Researchers, in a study published in Nature, have discovered that asymptomatic people are often carriers of a genetic variant that helps their immune system to recognize and promptly fight the virus. This feature does not prevent them from being infected, but protects them from the manifestations of Covid-19.
“If you have an army that can recognize the enemy early, that’s a huge advantage. It’s like having soldiers who are prepared for battle and who already know what to look for,” said study coordinator Jill Hollenbach.
Research has focused on the labeling system that the body uses to distinguish its own components from foreign ones: the so-called HLA (human leukocyte antigens). The researchers found that about 20% of the asymptomatic people had a mutation in one of the HLA genes (called HLA-B*15:01), compared with 9% of those with symptoms. Furthermore, if the mutation was present in duplicate, the chances of escaping disease symptoms were eight times higher.
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