The Covid-19 Host Genetics Initiative saw investigators from research centers in Europe, Asia, and North America share data on how genes might affect how sick coronavirus makes us.
There is no single, simple answer to why some are made extremely ill by Covid-19 while others have no symptoms at all. But many efforts to solve that puzzle have focused on the “lock” on our cells the virus uses to gain access.
It is called the Ace-2 receptor, a biological lock opened by naturally occurring chemical keys. That mechanism is fundamental to the biochemical machinery constantly whirring in healthy cells. Ace-2 can be used as a cellular doorway by proteins regulating our blood pressure.
But the coronavirus has cleverly (and unfortunately) evolved to fit that same lock.
Like every building block of our bodies, the exact shape and function of our Ace-2 receptors is written in our genes, giving researchers valuable clues about who is most vulnerable to Covid-19.