UK artificial intelligence (AI) precision medicine company PrecisionLife has identified 68 genes associated with severe Covid-19 by analysing the genomes of 929 patients who had a severe response.

Using a high-order epistasis analysis approach and sourcing genomes from the UK Biobank, PrecisionLife was able to identify the 68 genes, including nine that have previously been linked to the virus. The 68 genes include several druggable protein targets and pathways, nine of which are targeted by drugs that have reached at least Phase I of a clinical trial.

These insights could help to identify patients who are at the greatest risk of developing the most severe forms of Covid-19. This could inform the development of biomarker-driven tests, targeted shielding and new therapeutic strategies that could identify people at the highest risk if they are infected.

PrecisionLife CEO Dr Steve Gardner said: “This is our second study specifically looking at host genomics to identify those most at risk and find opportunities to treat patients with later-stage severe disease where host immune processes begin to run out of control.”