A team of researchers at NYU Abu Dhabi, led by Associate Professor of Biology Youssef Idaghdour, PhD, and working in collaboration with clinicians at several Abu Dhabi hospitals, investigated the association between microRNAs, a class of small RNA molecules that regulate genes, and COVID-19 severity among 259 unvaccinated COVID-19 patients living in Abu Dhabi. The team identified microRNAs that are associated with a weakened immune response and admission to ICU. During this process, the scientists created the first genomic picture of the architecture of blood microRNAs in unvaccinated COVID-19 patients from the Middle East, North Africa (MENA), and South Asia regions whose populations are consistently under-represented in genomics research. The researchers identified changes in microRNAs at the early stages of infection that are associated with specific blood traits and immune cell death, allowing the virus to evade the immune system and proliferate.
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