An international team of researchers is looking for people with possible resistance to the coronavirus to study their genes. Given the severity of the pandemic we are still going through, it sounds like a secret scientific association looking for people with superpowers. However, resistance to specific diseases due to genetic causes is something more than well known in other pathologies.
For example, some people are known to be resistant to HIV or influenza. Sometimes, this resistance to a pathology can be accompanied by a disadvantage. For example, some research indicates that carriers of the cystic fibrosis gene (they have only one copy, so they do not get sick) are protected against tuberculosis. There are a multitude of examples, some with an associated disadvantage, but others simply with the great quality of resisting a disease. Could something like this happen with COVID-19?
This disease is still too young to have answers. However, it is within the expected range. And finding these people could be very positive for the search for treatments against the virus. Because yes, it seems that the pandemic is deflating thanks to vaccines, but we must not forget that there is still a large part of the world whose population has barely begun to be vaccinated. Now is not the time to stop research, so the search for those people with coronavirus resistance is still necessary.
What is coronavirus resistance?
If there really are people with coronavirus resistance, research is needed to understand why they are resistant. It is common that the cause is in the genes. For example, they may not have the genes that carry the instructions for synthesizing SARS-CoV-2 receptors.
This means that their cells would have no gateway and that, no matter how much contact they had with the virus, it would never be able to enter them.
And, given some of the cases that have been reported since the pandemic began, this is something that could happen. For example, entire families have been seen infected in which only one member, despite having been in contact with the others without protective measures, did not become infected.
Front-line workers, such as healthcare workers, have also been found to be repeatedly exposed to the virus and have also failed to test positive for any PCR. This could be attributed to PPE, but we should not forget that at the beginning of the pandemic many workers still did not have PPE. And yet they did not become infected.
These scientists have already recruited 400 people for their study on the genetic causes of possible resistance to the coronavirus, but they are still looking for volunteers.
They must meet the requirement of not having been infected after spending at least one hour a day with an infected person during the first 3-5 days of symptoms. All this, of course, without protective measures.
This, in addition, should have been confirmed with PCR four weeks after contact. And also a blood test to look for cells such as T-lymphocytes, which would indicate that you have indeed gone through the infection, perhaps asymptomatically. If all this is negative, the person in question would be ready to be part of the study.
If you think this is your case, in this link you have the information to participate as a volunteer. They accept people from all over the world.
But why is this so important?
What does the resistance of some people have to do with saving others? To answer these questions, a good example is HIV. The only person in the world who is considered to have been completely cured of this disease was someone known as the Berlin patient. The man, in addition to HIV, had leukemia, so he underwent a bone marrow transplant, with the coincidence that the donor had genes that gave him resistance to the AIDS virus. Thus, this exchange of cells transferred the resistance to him, allowing him to spend the rest of his days without having to undergo antiretroviral treatment again.
In the event that people are found with resistance to the coronavirus, it does not mean that they will have to donate bone marrow to all those infected. This is a different disease, but it would provide interesting information about targets for future treatments.