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How to research COVID-19 host genetics?

How to research COVID-19 host genetics?

12/8/2020    |    0 min read

Congenica Launches New Host Genetics Module to Advance COVID-19 Research


Learn about the role of host genetics in COVID-19 and the genes that influence COVID-19 susceptibility, progression and severity

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing massive disruptions across the globe and we urgently need insights and solutions to understand and treat the virus, mitigate and overcome its challenges. Why are some individuals more susceptible to COVID-19 than others, and how do their symptoms progress? Why do some young, healthy individuals die from COVID-19? Can we identify risk markers from genome-wide association studies?

In short, yes. Using Congenica’s new COVID-19 host genetics analysis module, researchers will be able to identify variation in genes that influence COVID-19 susceptibility, progression and severity. Understanding the role of host genetics in COVID-19 is essential in finding the correct treatment protocols.

While initial studies indicate that pre-existing medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, ethnic background and socio-economic status are associated with COVID-19 susceptibility, severity and clinical outcomes between infected individuals, little is still known about the genomic factors related to COVID-19 host response. Recent studies are showing that specific variations in genes are related to SARS-CoV-2 viral entry, viral replication, and immune response, among others [1].


Genetic susceptibility to severe coronavirus symptoms: how do genes influence the progression of COVID-19?

Congenica’s COVID-19 module helps researchers and clinicians analyze the genetic contribution to an individual’s COVID-19 response and the fundamental biological pathways involved. The COVID-19 module enables the analysis of host genome DNA sequence data (panels, exomes, genomes). Researchers can use candidate gene or genome-wide approaches to identify variants of interest or apply curated variant lists (CVL) for clinically actionable variants. This allows for the stratification of patients. 

There are many use cases of specific genetic markers, e. g. to identify a subset of the population we want to effectively shield. Individuals with comorbidities have specific variants we can look at for research. We can also focus on outcomes (treatment and management), trial recruitment (therapy response), drug safety and pharmacogenetics, e. g. should certain drugs not be co-administered? [2]


Investigate the genes related to COVID-19 viral entry

By applying expertise gained from analyzing tens of thousands of clinical genomics cases and a thorough review of the most up-to-date research, Congenica’s COVID-19 module provides curated variant lists to rapidly identify variants which have been associated with SARS-CoV-2 host response, helping researchers stay up to date with what is important. The module includes curated panels of well-evidenced genes focused on SARS-CoV-2 viral interaction and disease progression.

Evidence is selected from a combination of EMBI COVID-19 data portal, GENCODE and literature searches with a focus on viral entry/processing in relation to coronavirus. Reporting with COVID-19 related metadata is streamlined, preconfigured and templated. New candidate host genes are rapidly and comprehensively reviewed.


Key benefits of using Congenica’s COVID-19 genetics analysis module

“Congenica COVID-19 has been developed to meet the pressing need to help researchers interrogate key sets of host genes implicated in susceptibility, infection and progression of COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2. The new module will help researchers identify effective treatments and inform projects looking to improve clinical outcomes.”

Dr Nick Lench, Chief Scientific Officer, Congenica


Congenica COVID-19 integrates Google Scholar search, and an active PubMed integration will also enable users to have in-product access to up-to-date literature. Thus, the flexible and powerful Congenica platform enables rapid adaptation of research approaches as new data becomes available.

Additionally, the module allows investigators to prioritize variants in curated genes using COVID-19-related Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) terms such as loss of smell or dry cough and to include information about viral strain or treatment regimen, incorporating the latest findings from the growing scientific literature to aid research.


Enabling researchers to analyze the genetic underpinnings of COVID-19 infections

The COVID-19 module will enable researchers to focus on analysing the genetic foundation of COVID-19 infection with a high-degree of confidence, while saving hundreds of hours of literature review and gene analysis.

Are you analyzing COVID-19 host genomes as efficiently as possible? Discover how Congenica COVID-19 can help you gain insight to the host genome response to SARS-CoV-2 and download our module data sheet (link). 

Have you missed our COVID-19 webinar? Watch it here. 



[1] van der Made CI, Simons A, Schuurs-Hoeijmakers J, et al. Presence of Genetic Variants Among Young Men With Severe COVID-19. JAMA. 2020;324(7):663–673. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.13719

[2] Pharmacogenetics Research for COVID-19 Drugs Needed to Improve Patient Safety. ClinicalOMICS, August 31, 2020


Discover the Congenica COVID-19 module

View Congenica COVID-19