Why do some people have no symptoms of COVID while others have life-threatening complications? A new study aims to find out.
MINEAPOLIS – The Mayo Clinic is expanding extensive genetic research to help find answers to one of the biggest questions about COVID-19: Why do some people experience few, if any, symptoms, while others have life-threatening complications?
“I strongly believe that there are people who are more susceptible to developing COVID than others,” said Dr. Konstantinos N. Lazaridis, chief tapestry researcher, a DNA sequencing study conducted on all campuses at the Mayo Clinic.
Dr. Lazaridis says they have released the Tapestry as a way to screen patients at the Mayo Clinic for predisposition to rare genetic diseases related to breast cancer, colon cancer and high cholesterol.
But he says the same DNA saliva sample can be used to find out more about people who test positive for COVID-1
“A number of patients may have minor symptoms and all disappear, and others need to be hospitalized.” Dr. Lazaridis said. “If we better understand the mechanism of how it happens, we can be more effective with our therapies.”
Laurel Fishbach recently signed up for an online tapestry survey. She was among the first few Minnesota diagnosed with COVID-19 after returning from a ski trip to Colorado in the spring. Fishbach says she and all her friends are infected.
“We got it from being in restaurants in the evenings after skiing all day,” she said. “They were side by side, full of people.”
RELATED: Tracking contact in North Dakota: “We break records, no one wants to break”
But although everyone has a similar exposure, Fishbach says they all had different experiences.
“Everyone had different symptoms,” she said. “Some people had gastrointestinal symptoms that kept them constantly uncomfortable in the bathroom as well. Some people’s symptoms were so severe that they didn’t have the energy to get out of bed all week. I think there were about four of us who ended up getting of pneumonia with him. There was one person in the group who never had a symptom. “
Dr. Lazaridis believes that tapestry can help you understand why.
“We know, for example, from studies over the last six months or so that specific blood types have a higher risk of developing COVID than others,” he said. “For example, people with group A, blood (type) A, they have a higher tendency to develop a more severe disease than those who have group O.”
Laurel is from this type of group O and has since donated plasma to help other patients. She views the study of the tapestry in a similar way.
“This is my way of giving back and helping with further research,” Fishbach said. “It’s all about finding answers. Anything to stop this virus and get rid of it, crush it.”
Anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the Mayo Clinical System is eligible to participate in this study free of charge, whether or not you have symptoms. Click here for more information.
“The advantage we have in tapestry research is that we all do the dialing electronically,” said Dr. Lazaridis. “We provide them with a video of the study’s goals and expectations, so we don’t have to have face-to-face contact with the patient. Our sampling is done by mail, so anything can be done from home.”