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Bioscience Genomics, the university spin off between Roma “Tor Vergata” University and Bioscience Institute, is among the 29 promoters and participants of the GEFACOVID (Analysis of GEnetic FActors influencing infection with SARS-CoV-2 and progression of COVID-19) project. Recently submitted to the EU, which allocated specific funds to fight novel coronavirus pandemic, this project will try to answer questions related to SARS-CoV-2 behavior and host genetic factors influencing the immune response to the infection.

Among other participants are international universities (Padova, Brescia, Torino, Trieste, Essex, Essen, Madrid, Munich, Maastricht, Isfahan), institutions (Istituto Nazionale Malattie Infettive -Spallanzani and Instituto Superiore di Sanità in Italy, INSERM Brest in France and SINH-Shanghai in China), foundations (Aviralia, Lorenzini), private companies (ThermoFisher, BBraun, ABBVIE, AlfaSigma, DaVinciDigital Therapeutics, Novartis) and start-ups (Personal Genomics, Diatheva, TOMA Impact Lab Group, GenDx, PharmGenetix GmdH).

Bioscience Genomics will exploit is expertise in DNA analysis to develop a blood test to identify the genetic makeup of individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2. This will make possible to stratify patients based on genetic traits influencing the response to coronavirus infection, and, in turn, to choose the most suitable approach treatment. Moreover, the test will facilitate participant recruitment in pharmacogenetics studies with both new or repurposed drugs.

A genetic study for new diagnostic and therapeutic solutions

The GEFACOVID project will examine in detail virus’ genetic polymorphisms too, as well as COVID-19 pathogenesis mechanisms. Patients’ genetic, genomic, metabolomic and clinical data will be analyzed together with epidemiological informations to identify biomarkers conferring virus infection susceptibility and increasing life-threatening complications risk.

«This information will be then developed to a level that could be exploited for development of therapeutics and diagnostics, which can be used both in the laboratory and in the field, with the ultimate goal to prevent further human losses – Giuseppe Novelli, Full Medical Genetics Professor at “Tor Vergata” University and coordinator of the newborn European, Chinese and Iranian consortium leading the project – Working closely with corporate and clinical partners, we will pursue rapid, clinically actionable solutions, which will facilitate novel preventative approaches and dynamic medical interventions».

Bioscience Genomics contribution

«Choosing the most suitable approach to SARS-CoV-2 infection by means of our blood test will produce at least two advantages – Giuseppe Mucci, Bioscience Institute CEO, says – First, the rapid planning of the allocation of healthcare resources, such as instruments and drugs; and second, the reduction of mortality risk. Moreover, our test will facilitate the discovery of new, more efficient COVID-19 therapies, because it can be used to select participant for pharmacogenetics studies with both new or repurposed drugs».

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