A group of 20 genes determines people's response to dengue, which can be predicted with 80% accuracy if an individual is more likely to suffer the most severe form of this disease, according to research unveiled on Tuesday.
Thus, the authors of the Stanford University study in California believe that a way has been opened for the prevention of this infection that affects between 200 and 400 million people in the world each year and that causes death to about half million of them.
The researchers focused on the common genetic characteristics of patients with advanced-to-severe dengue cases.
The report, published in the scientific journal Cell Reports, analyzed data from five previous investigations, where the 20 genes stood out in all patients who developed severe cases of the disease.
"We did not compare healthy patients to infected patients, compared those who had uncomplicated dengue infection with those who developed severe dengue," said Purvesh Khatri, a professor of medicine and biomedical data science at the Stanford School of Medicine. of the study authors.
In this way, researchers have been able to establish the set of genes that allow to know if the patient is more prone to aggravate with this disease, which is spread by mosquito bites, mainly known as "Aedes aegypti".
To verify the validity of the genes identified, the researchers conducted a joint analysis with the Foundation Clinical Research Center of Valle del Lili, in Cali (Colombia).
Thirty-four participants with dengue in the early stages were evaluated, in which a prediction of infection development was established based on the 20 genes previously identified.
The results fully coincided with an effective diagnosis of who would develop the infection to a greater degree and who would not.
"It is clear that this population sample is small and we want to confirm our data in larger populations," noted Khatri, noting that a new phase of the study will also be developed in Paraguay.
With a larger population sample, there is also an opportunity to refine the data, which could lead to a reduction in the number of genes, "added Shirit Einav, a professor of medicine and microbiology and immunology at Stanford and co-author of the study.