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Stories and information in our region on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dementia Gene Doubles Risk Of Severe COVID, Study Finds

Jean-Francois Badias

People with a gene that causes dementia are twice as likely to have a severe case of COVID-19. That’s what a team of researchers at the University of Connecticut and a British medical school have discovered.

This faulty gene is found in one in 36 people with European ancestry. Chia-Ling Kuo with the University of Connecticut says they found people with two copies of the gene in their genetic code are at risk.

“This gene is strongly associated with dementia. So we hypothesized that this gene is associated with COVID-19 severity. And we found it’s true, and even in people without dementia.”

Kuo and her team first found people with dementia are more likely to come down with severe cases of COVID-19. But they didn’t know why until they found the genetic culprit. 

Kuo says it’s still early in the process. Their data is preliminary.

“It has implications of the underlying biological mechanics, but this will require experimental studies to confirm. We will leave this for other investigators.”

But she says she hopes this new connection could lead scientists to develop new treatments for COVID-19.

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Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.