People who have used home DNA testing kits could help scientists establish if certain genes make you more likely to die from coronavirus.
Test results from popular DIY ancestry kits could help researchers understand which genes are involved in the body’s response to COVID-19.
Using data from testing services such as Ancestry DNA, FTDNA or 23andMe would save scientists the costly and time-consuming process of having to collect DNA samples, experts from the University of Edinburgh said.
A team of researchers from the university is doing a study to identify which patients are more likely to develop severe coronavirus symptoms – or none at all – based on their DNA.
They are calling on the 30 million people who use home DNA testing services worldwide to help them with their research.
Albert Tenesa, professor of quantitative genetics at the University of Edinburgh, who is co-leading the study, said: “Time is of the essence.
“To identify the genes that explain why some people get very sick from coronavirus and others don’t, we need the solidarity of a large proportion of people from different countries who can share their DNA testing results with us. In this case, size really matters.”
People taking part in the study will provide their DNA data and complete online questionnaires about their health, lifestyle and any virus symptoms they have had.
Updating surveys before, during and after infection will help identify any patterns that link the disease with DNA, the scientists added.
The study, which has been named Coronagenes and is being done with the support of the Medical Research Council, Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council, Health Data Research UK and Wellcome Trust, will also look at the long-term health consequences of infection and self-isolation.