Researchers Reveal Genetic Predisposition to Severe COVID-19
HSE University researchers have become the first in the world to discover genetic predisposition to severe COVID-19. The results of the study were published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology.
T-cell immunity is one of the key mechanisms used by the human body to fight virus infections. The staging ground for cell immunity development is the presentation of virus peptides on the surface of infected cells. This is followed by activation of T lymphocytes, which start to destroy the infected cells.
The ability to successfully present virus peptides is largely determined by genetics. In human cells, human leukocyte antigen class I (HLA-I) molecules are responsible for this presentation. The set of six such molecules is unique in every human and is inherited from an individual’s parents. In simple terms, if the set of alleles detects the virus well, then the immune cells will detect and destroy the infected cells fast; if a person has a set that is bad at such detection, a more severe case of disease is more likely to be observed.
Researchers from the HSE Faculty of Biology and Biotechnology–Maxim Shkurnikov, Stepan Nersisyan, Alexei Galatenko and Alexander Tonevitsky–joined their peers from Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University and Filatov City Clinical Hospital (Tatjana Jankevic, Ivan Gordeev, Valery Vechorko) to study the correlation between HLA-I genotype and the severity of COVID-19.
Using machine learning, they built a model that provides an integral assessment of the possible power of T-cell immune response to COVID-19: if the set of HLA-I alleles allows for effective presentation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus peptides, those individuals received low risk score, while people with lower presentation capability received higher risk scores (in the range from 0 to 100). To validate the model, genotypes of over 100 patients who had suffered from COVID-19 and over 400 healthy people (the control group) were analysed. It turned out that the modelled risk score is highly effective in predicting the severity of COVID-19.
In addition to analysing the Moscow population, the researchers used their model on a sample of patients from Madrid, Spain. The high precision of prediction was confirmed on this independent sample as well: the risk score of patients suffering severe COVID-19 was considerably higher than in patients with moderate and mild cases of the disease.
‘In addition to the discovered correlations between the genotype and COVID-19 severity, the suggested approach also helps to evaluate how a certain COVID-19 mutation can affect the development of T-immunity to the virus. For example, we will be able to detect groups of patients for whom infection with new strains of SARS-CoV-2 can lead to more severe forms of the disease,’ Alexander Tonevitsky said.
Researchers Mario Guarracino from the HSE Laboratory of Algorithms and Technologies for Networks Analysis in Nizhny Novgorod and Julius Žilinskas and Algirdas Lančinskas from Vilnius University, have proposed a new method of testing for COVID-19. This group method allows results to be obtained 13 times faster as compared to individual testing of each sample. The research paper was published in the journal Scientific Reports.
An international team of scholars studied how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Europeans’ stress levels and their trust in their national governments and the healthcare systems. They found that respondents were most stressed by the state of the national economy, and only after that, by the risk of catching COVID-19 and possibly being hospitalized. In Western Europe, people trust their governments more than in other EU countries. The results of the study were published in Royal Society Open Science.
On March 29, HSE is fully transitioning to in-person instruction. However, since March 1 some departments, including ICEF, have been conducting seminars on campus while holding lecture courses online. Oleg Zamkov, Academic Supervisor of the ICEF Bachelor’s programme, spoke about how ICEF survived the rapid transition to online exams, what LSE professors have to say about the effectiveness of the online exams, and what digital innovations that were implemented during the remote period will be used moving forward.
The HSE Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge has released the results of its survey on digital practices in 2020, which illustrate the changes in how people have mastered new formats to solve routine tasks.The HSE Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge has released the results of its survey on digital practices in 2020, which illustrate the changes in how people have mastered new formats to solve routine tasks.
Biologists and mathematicians from HSE University, Skoltech and the RAS Kharkevich Institute have studied the spread of COVID-19 in Russia. The main part of the study was completed in late June, but until October, the team was working with data following the reviewers’ recommendations. The paper was published on January 28, 2021 in the journal Nature Communications. MIEM students spoke about their contribution to the research.
Countries with reserve currencies, sufficient fiscal capacity to implement soft fiscal policies, and access to global capital markets have the best chance of recovering from the coronavirus crisis. The rest may need external assistance. These are the conclusions drawn by Alexei Kireyev, leading IMF economist and visiting professor at HSE University’s School of World Economy.
Researchers Yulia Chilipenok, Olga Gaponova, Nadezhda Gaponova and Lyubov Danilova of HSE – Nizhny Novgorod looked at how the lockdown has impacted Russian women during the COVID-19 pandemic. They studied the following questions: how women divided their time; how they worked from home; how they got on with their partners and children; and how they dropped old habits and started new ones in relation to nutrition, health, beauty, and self-development.
Those who consider themselves healthy will be more willing to comply with COVID restrictions if they believe, according to their own estimations, that the expected losses from the disease will be significant, suggest researchers of the Faculty of Economic Sciences at HSE University.
Researchers at HSE and Lomonosov Moscow State University analyzed data on Russians’ movements during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their analysis showed that residents of lower-income municipalities self-isolated less compared to residents of higher-income cities. The findings were published in the journal Environment and Planning A.
How high is the risk of a full-blown financial crisis after the pandemic? Which countries and regions are most at risk? Are national governments managing to cope with the challenge of preventing economic collapse? Such topics were the focus of attention at the annual conference organised by the HSE University Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs.