A research team, led by Sidney alumnus Professor Julian Gough, are collecting DNA data files from the general public to aid important research looking at whether it is possible to predict phenotype from genotype.

This international study, launched in Cambridge at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (MRC-LMB) could determine whether a person's genetic make-up can increase their risk of being severely affected by COVID-19.

Professor Gough, who leads the group at the MRC-LMB, and his research team (which includes Dr Arun Prasad PanduranganI, a Sidney College Research Associate and external Director of Studies in Natural Sciences) are looking for individuals who have done a DNA test kit (such as 23andMe or AncestryDNA) to share the data and help biological scientists develop and refine computational methods that interpret genetic information.

The study and the collected data, to be used anonymously, has the potential to identify genes that we did not know had any impact on COVID-19 infection risk. It could also uncover genetic variants affecting our propensity to a cytokine storm - a process which affects the worst-hit COVID-19 patients by sending the immune system into haywire by activating large numbers of white blood cells and releasing inflammatory cytokines. Furthermore, it could detect risk factors for different ethnic groups.

Those interested in volunteering their DNA data file can do so by following this link: https://supfam.mrc-lmb.cam.ac.uk/SUPERFAMILY/23andMe/.

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