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Human ACE2 Coding Variants: A Potential Risk Factor for COVID-19

COVID-19 Research Area(s): Diagnostics, Genomics & Transmission Dynamics

The human ACE2 protein is the main protein that the virus causing COVID-19 binds to in order to enter human cells and begin an infection. ACE2 may even be the very first protein that the virus "sees" when it is inhaled or enters the body in other ways. We want to see if naturally-occurring differences in the shape of the ACE2 protein affect its ability to bind the COVID-19 virus. If they do, then these might be human genetic markers of disease susceptibility and resistance.

We are looking to link genetic data on ACE2 variants to de-identified clinical data on COVID-19. We believe that ACE2 variants may account for some "extreme phenotypes" in COVID-19, such as paediatric-onset disease or people who remain asymptomatic for long periods of time without clearing the virus completely.

Collaboration opportunities:
Seeking collaborators with the ability to perform direct functional assays of ACE2 binding to viral particles, including viral internalization.