Colcorona genetic study: better understanding the symptoms of COVID-19
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On March 23rd, the Montreal Heart Institute’s Research Centre launched a major clinical study that aims to determine if colchicine could prevent the “inflammatory storm” phenomenon present in the lungs of adults suffering from severe complications related to COVID-19
The clinical study titled Colcorona is one of the few ongoing studies on COVID-19 that targets people who are not hospitalized. It requires the participation of 6,000 patients over the age of 40 who are at high-risk of developing complications of COVID-19 and available to take the medication or placebo for 30 days. Since its launch, the clinical study has been deployed in sites throughout Canada, the U.S., South Africa, and Europe.
What if we could better understand why individuals react so differently to the same virus?
The possible links between genetics and COVID-19
In parallel to this clinical study, the Colcorona genetic study is taking place at the Montreal Heart Institute’s Beaulieu-Saucier Pharmacogenomics Centre and is led by Dr. Marie-Pierre Dubé. This study invited participants who have already accepted to take part in the Colcorona study to voluntarily contribute their DNA. The study of their DNA will help researchers better understand why some patients develop a more severe form of COVID-19.
Furthermore, with the genome sequence of the coronavirus that has infected patients, researchers will attempt to identify links between the severity of the disease and the mutations observed in the genome of this virus that is quickly evolving. This link between the patient and virus will help researchers better understand the disease’s epidemiology.
The genetic study will allow researchers to discover links between genes and COVID-19 in order to identify which biological mechanisms are solicited in a person’s response to the viral infection and provide insight into differences in disease severity. It will also guide the development of more efficient treatments to fight the current pandemic and prevent future epidemics.
A sequencer to interpret the DNA of sick individuals
Genomic studies have been made possible thanks to significant technological advances in precision medicine, also called personalized medicine. This revolutionary field allows physicians to precisely identify the patient’s characteristics, through genetic analysis, in order to optimize their treatment and the efficiency of drugs administered.
With the Colcorona genetic study, we want to carry out work that will optimize treatment of patients by using a simple blood test.
Advances in this field require the use of a cutting-edge robotic device called the NovaSeq 6000. This device provides an unmatched speed to collect and organize data related to patients’ DNA. It can also be adapted to meet the needs of a variety of research projects. More specifically, this unique tool is essential for understanding the DNA of patients and the DNA of the virus responsible for COVID-19.
Benefits of precision medicine
The Montreal Heart Institute’s Pharmacogenomics Centre is a world leader in precision medicine and has been making contributions to the field for more than 10 years. Its internationally renowned researchers have been identifying the genetic factors that underlie the appearance and evolution of diseases. This essential work results in better treatments and better outcomes for patients.
Generally, precision medicine has many benefits:
- Identification of new genomic biomarkers that make it easier to characterize the profile of patients at high risk for diseases
- Development of new, more efficient drugs
- Drug repositioning
- Decrease in the costs incurred in the health care system by improving treatments
- Better use of medical resources
- Fewer prescription drugs needed in a population
- A healthier population
A quick response to save millions of lives
During this pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus, we need the support and generosity of big-hearted donors to make an immediate, tangible difference in the lives of millions of people. Thanks to their contribution, the Colcorona genetic study will quickly provide the scientific evidence that is needed in the urgent fight against COVID-19. The genetic information collected will quickly be made available to international researchers to help them in the fight against the coronavirus and to prepare for future viruses.
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- The estate of Mr. Robert O’Brien
- The J. Armand Bombardier Foundation
- The Gelmont Foundation
- Canadian Pacific
- Sun Life
- TF1 International Inc.
- The Mary M. Marlin Trust
- The Sibylla Hesse Foundation