“A genetic shield has protected southern Italy”: Professor Giordano’s hypothesis


A “genetic shield” may have protected southern Italy from the Sars-CoV-2 tsunami that swept the northern regions. “The hypothesis is to be validated before drawing firm conclusions, but it is already founded on solid scientific bases”, Antonio Giordano, founder and director of the Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine of Philadelphia and explains to Adnkronos Salute professor of Pathological Anatomy at the University of Siena, among the authors of an article published in Frontiers Immunology. The idea, in summary, is that among the key factors that have helped to draw the map of the new coronavirus epidemic so clearly in our country there is also “an interaction between DNA and the environment”.

“The hypothesis is that there is a form of defense” printed in the “code of life”, “a protective genetic structure” against the more serious effects of the pandemic pathogen, “which by numbers seems more widespread in the South than in the North”, he observes Giordano.

During the lockdown, Giordano tried to analyze “the possible causes of the high rate of infection and mortality in Italy”. The theory is that “a specific genetic structure, consisting of particular variants of the Hla genes, could underlie the susceptibility to Sars-CoV-2 disease and its severity”.

“While some have proposed that milder climatic conditions could help prevent viral spread,” the authors wonder whether “a specific genetic makeup could help protect Southern citizens. Further large-scale case-control studies could shed light on this possible aspect », but« the solid foundations for thinking about it already exist », Giordano assures. “We are increasing the number of cases to arrive at the final figure”, he explains. And to those who should object that many citizens of southern Italy have actually lived in the North for generations, the scientist replies by recalling the existence of “complex interactions between genetics and the environment. We must also consider a number of important factors that we are examining, not least the possible role of pollution from fine particles “.

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