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Genes will decide how coronavirus will affect you seriously

Chris Rynolds



Genes will decide how coronavirus will affect you seriously

Geneticists from all over the world intend to carry out hundreds of thousands of genetic analyzes to find out what distinguishes the patients who evolve worse

Since the start of the pandemic, everyone has been wondering why the same virus causes such different reactions. While many people do not even know they are infected, others end up in the ICU, and thousands are dying. Some risk factors are clear: advanced age and suffering from other diseases mean that we buy more ballots to suffer a more serious version of Covid-19, but being young and healthy does not guarantee that we will get rid of it either.

Geneticists have thought that their specialty has a lot to contribute, that the different faces of the disease could be related to genetic variability between some individuals and others, as it is in other diseases. Could it be the same with the new coronavirus? To find out, experts have created The Covid-19 Host Genetics Initiative, an international platform to push forward studies on coronavirus patients and share the results. Knowing whether genes make a patient more vulnerable can be key in prognosis and treatment, and would end up saving many lives.

Of these, there will be 7,000 Spaniards and another 1,000 from the United Kingdom, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Colombia that will serve to identify whether the possible genetic markers found are characteristic of Spain or not. In principle, they will not study the complete genome of each individual but certain markers (what is technically called the ‘complete genome association study’ or GWAS). Later, they will sequence 300 complete genomes to analyze in detail the alterations found.

“When we talk about genes, one thinks of rare diseases or cancer, but all human pathologies are the result of the environment and of the person, and also in viral infections, genetics has a lot to say,” explains Pablo Lapunzina in statements to Teknautas. An individual’s genetic information “can make their response to an infection different and even prevent them from becoming infected.” The case of HIV is well known, especially since in November 2018 a Chinese scientist announced that he had genetically modified human embryos to make them resistant, which is why he was later convicted.

With respect to Covid-19, “we are facing a viral infection that should be banal because of every 100 people, close to 80% are asymptomatic, nor do they find out that they were sick, 10 or 15% feel greasy and only one 5% have a severe illness, so it is clear that the individual response is quite different, “says Pablo Lapunzina.

“Without a doubt, the genetic variants have to do with increased risks or protection against the disease, ” he says, although the answer will probably be very complex, the key will not be in a single gene. Many small differences may explain why some people who come in contact with the virus develop serious illness, while most have flu-like symptoms or not even that. “It is also quite likely that there will be people who will not directly become infected even if they are in contact with the virus because it cannot enter the cells, but this will be more difficult to prove,” he says.

As he explains, there is already some data that indicates that the European population could have a greater predisposition to be attacked by the virus, in particular, “variants in the ACE receptors of cells with respect to Asian populations.” The data says that mortality in China was very low compared to that recorded in Europe and, “apart from the fact that epidemiological policies to control the disease have been different, these receptors are likely to be decisive,” he says.

However, it will take hundreds of thousands of patients to confirm that these subtle genetic differences protect or make people more vulnerable. The international consortium aims to reach 150,000. The problem is to make a balanced and correct selection of the participants. “We need to have people who have been infected and have been asymptomatic, and this must be verified with antibody tests; also to others who have been regular, with fever and few more signs of illness, and others who, in the same situation, have been serious or have died, apparently without risk factors, “he explains.

The healthy young man who ends up in the ICU

All the projects included in The Covid-19 Host Genetics Initiative will provide minimal information that is useful for data sharing, but each one has its own particular characteristics. For example, another Spaniard focuses on patients under the age of 60 without other diseases. Led by the CSIC’s Barcelona Institute for Biomedical Research (IIBB), it will focus on 200 patients waiting to obtain more funding.

“We are interested in all patients, but obviously age and previous pathologies are more vulnerable even to the normal flu, so when doing a genetic study, they could lead us to confusion,” says Anna Planas, coordinator of this study. “In the normal population, there are polymorphisms or genetic variations that normally do not entail any pathology, but in the face of a viral infection, there may be people with a poorer response capacity and we can better identify this factor if we focus the study on people initially healthy ”, he highlights.

Already in the first coronavirus epidemic, the SARS epidemic of 2002-2003, some studies pointed out that having certain polymorphisms could increase the susceptibility to severe forms of the disease. However, they were performed with very few patients and almost primitive genetic tools compared to current means. “This encouraged us to think that with the advances of today, we could further explore this issue,” says the researcher.

In Granada, Marta Alarcón Riquelme, a scientist at the Center for Genomics and Oncology Research (Genyo), also wondered why young and middle-aged people developed bilateral pneumonia that characterizes the worst version of Covid-19 and, in particular, by that in the worst cases an inflammation occurs that complicates the condition of the patients.

The challenge of explaining decisive inflammation

In fact, physicians agree to observe a common characteristic among Covid-19 cases that have evolved poorly. Generally, in a first phase, patients have symptoms that could be assimilated to those of the flu, but after a few days, something goes wrong and the immune system overreacts, causing what is called a ‘cytokine storm’, proteins that they should fight the infection but in this case, they cause an inflammation of the organs, especially the lungs.

“We want to know if there is any type of predisposition that is not clinically evident, inflammatory processes that we can detect in DNA by looking for gene expression markers through what is called methylation, and identify possible genetic associations that tell us about a susceptibility to develop more severe disease, “says Marta Alarcón. For example, “I can have a gene with a variant that causes more cytokines to be produced, so the response is going to be greater.” Therefore, it is not about having or not having a gene, but about quantitative changes.

The key is to compare, among hospitalized patients, those who have a worse evolution with those who better overcome the disease. For this, the Genyo is already recruiting patients and the initial idea is to carry out the study with 1,300 participants, in collaboration with other geneticists from Valladolid, Barcelona, ​​Malaga, and Milan.

Although within the international consortium ” 90% of the groups still do not have data “, because they are looking for patients who can participate, Alarcón regrets the bureaucratic obstacles that have prevented him from speeding up the process. “Unfortunately, I have a limit of 15,000 euros to buy material. From this figure, I have to open a public offer that may take a while and I cannot start at this time because we are with the administrative deadlines closed. ” Meanwhile, “in the United States, they are already ahead.”

The application of the results

With more or less Spanish input, experts are confident that the international consortium as a whole will provide decisive data to fight the new coronavirus and that the results can be applied on several fronts. For example, “if a person becomes ill, with a genetic study we would know in 24 hours if their risk is high or low, and based on that we could decide on their income, their follow-up or even analyze the risk that their relatives run”, Lapunzina comments.

On the other hand, genetic information can also be decisive in treatment. First, in the search for new compounds or drugs that are already on the market and can be reused. On the other, to guide the medication of each patient. In fact, something similar happened until recently with hepatitis C – before new treatments became available – patients’ genetic markers were studied to find out who would respond to available treatments. It was a simple study that cost 16 euros and anticipated the effect of the drugs.

“Today, a patient is admitted and ‘a priori’ it is not possible to know if after four days he will go home or have to be admitted to the ICU, there is nothing that can predict this, ” says Anna Planas. However, after these studies, “in an ideal situation, we would find a key gene and know that people who had some variants of it would be more likely to develop a more serious disease.” The reality will be more complicated, but the CSIC researcher believes that “a test could be carried out on the general population with a drop of blood”, knowing that “if a person has a certain polymorphism, he is part of the population that must be to protect”.

The researcher believes that this could also be revolutionary in relation to epidemiological policies. “At the moment, we are talking theoretically, but if we had the entire population studied, we would know what percentage is at risk,” he says. In this sense, it would be possible to develop an epidemiological strategy that would not go through “blind” confinement like the current one, since “we do not know which are the biomarkers that cause us to pass the infection asymptomatically and which are the ones that cause us to be at serious risk ”, but it could be done much more selectively.

However, not everything will be in the genes. For example, among the population differences, there is the fact that men accumulate many more serious cases and deaths. The researchers do not rule out that massive genetic analyzes give any answer, but they believe that it most likely has nothing to do with it. “There are many variables, men tend to be more overweight, hypertensive, and have diabetes. And surely there is a hormonal factor, it seems that women’s estrogens protect a little more. If you remove all those factors, it is likely that the genetic difference between men and women will not make much difference, “Lapunzina points out.


Membrane filters you need to know and their properties

Bryan Nesbit



Membrane filters or commonly known as “membranes” are microporous membranes with specific pore size ratings. It is also called a sieve, microporous filter, or screen. Cellulose acetate membrane filter preserves or filter particles bigger than the pore size. If there are particles slighter than the pore size, other mechanisms will be used. There are different types of membrane filters, such as nylon, cellulose acetate, mixed cellulose ester, or MCE membrane filters. Here are more membrane filter types and their attributes.

The mixed cellulose ester

MCE is composed of cellulose acetate and nitrocellulose. It has a high porosity and can provide a higher flow rate. It also has a high level of protein binding, which can be prohibited by pretreatment or application. MCE is a standard membrane that can be used in many laboratory applications, such as filtration and sterilization of biological fluids, pollution analysis, microbiology, and air monitoring. The membrane is able to be converted into transparent to view the particles collected during the filtration process.

Cellulose acetate-

coated cellulose acetate consists of cellulose acetate cast on a non-woven polyester carrier. It has a non-fiber releasing ability, and the protein binding level associated with nitrocellulose is low. It also has a low level of static charge and chemically enhances compatibility with low molecular weight alcohols. The coated cellulose acetate is used as a pre-filter or clarification filter.

Hydrophilic PTFE

Hydrophilic PTFE has characteristics described as having the greatest resistance to chemicals and pH. The membrane has a high level of flow rate and almost no water-extractable. When the membrane is wetted with water, it is transparent to the naked eye, so it is very suitable for use in HPLC, organic solvents, and other aqueous mixtures.


PTFE The characteristic of hydrophobic PTFE is that it has a high porosity is very thin and behaves like a monolithic retention membrane. It also has a passive effect on most corrosive chemical solvents, alkalis, and strong acids. The membrane traps water-containing aerosols by sterilizing the gas. It is also used for gas and air discharge so that gas can freely pass through the membrane, and at the same time prohibit liquid from entering. This protects the best samples and vacuum pumps. In addition, hydrophobic PTFE clarifies and sterilizes strong acids and other solvents that are incompatible with other membrane filters.


nylon membrane filters are made by impregnating polyester fiber webs with polymers made of nylon. This makes the membrane durable, heat-resistant, and essentially hydrophilic. Because it is hydrophilic, it is suitable for alcohol and aqueous samples. The membrane filter can be used to sterilize, filter, and clarify organic aqueous solutions.

Cellulose acetate

The membrane filter is composed of diacetate and cellulose triacetate. It is characterized by high strength and low electrostatic charge. The advantage of using it is that it can be repeatedly disinfected without losing its integrity or changing its bubble point. Associated with MCE membrane filters in stipulations of their solvent confrontation to alcohol molecular weight increase at low levels.  Cellulose acetate is used to enhance the recovery of positive organisms and filter enzyme solutions. It is also used for cytological diagnosis and receptor binding research.

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Rapid production of porous cellulose acetate membrane for water filtration using readily available chemicals






We describe a chemistry lab experiment using everyday elements and readily available chemicals to introduce porous polymer membranes to high school and college students. The principle of membrane filtration is illustrated by filtering solutions containing watercolor pigments or food coloring, while the food coloring is completely soluble in water and easily passes through the membrane. . The laboratory experiment can be performed in a 2 hour activity and is intended to (1) expose students to an exciting new field of materials science. He familiarizes them with porous membranes for the production of drinking water and presents them with a model elimination technique that uses the acid / base theory. In Switzerland, 52 high school students and 55 high school teachers have already successfully completed the laboratory experience and found the activity interesting and motivating.



Importance of safe drinking water

Access to clean and safe drinking water remains a global problem. In developing countries, around 80% of diseases are linked to poor water and sanitation conditions. Among the most common health risks of unclean drinking water are water-borne illnesses caused by pathogenic bacteria, viruses, and protozoan parasites. In a comprehensive study, Bain and colleagues examined the microbial quality of drinking water and estimated that approximately 1.8 billion people worldwide use a source of drinking water contaminated with E. coli or other bacteria. thermotolerant coliforms (TTC).

Various approaches, with their inherent advantages and disadvantages, have been studied for eliminating microorganisms linked to waterborne diseases. The portable water purification devices currently in use include systems based on ultra and microfiltration membranes, ceramic filters, activated carbon filters or chemical halogen disinfection. The disadvantages of the most efficient systems are, in general, their complex installation and their periodic maintenance, which leads to high operating costs and, consequently, makes these systems unsuitable for developing countries. In addition, many point-of-use treatment devices are not effective against all possible contaminants. Therefore, new water treatment technologies are being explored.

Water quality issues are an integral part of many high school chemistry courses, and various experiments have been developed as educational laboratory procedures. Water filtration experiments for the removal of nanomaterials have already been described and a laboratory experiment comparing various biochemical separation technologies (including filtration) has been presented. The experience presented here differs from previous approaches in that the filtering device itself (a porous membrane) is made by students from standard materials, then its separation performance is tested.

Cellulose Acetate Membrane for Water Filtration

In this article, we describe a laboratory experiment to produce a cellulose acetate membrane filter for drinking water which, in its production stages, resembles the commercially available water filter, but which is accomplished using everyday items such as a kitchen blender, glass dishes, rulers and chemicals readily available. The entire experiment can be performed in a 2 hour laboratory exercise. Supporting information for this article includes a student brochure and instructor notes for conducting the classroom experience (approximately 20 to 40 students). The production of membranes is based on the addition of calcium carbonate to a solution of cellulose acetate dissolved in acetone. Glycerol is also added to the reaction mixture and acts as a pore spacer. The polymer solution is then mixed using a kitchen mixer, and the resulting dispersion is spread on a glass plate using a stainless steel ruler. After evaporation of the solvent in ambient air, the calcium carbonate and glycerol particles are washed from the polymer matrix in an acid bath and then rinsed in a water bath.

Functional test of the membrane using watercolor and food coloring

Students test the performance of the membrane obtained with a solution of watercolor and food coloring. Although, when mixed with water, both give colored water, the color of the food used is a water-soluble dye, and watercolor is a dispersion of pigments, with particles between 40 and 80 µm in size. The watercolor solution based on pigments is first passed through the membrane. Then the filtration is repeated with the food coloring solution. In both cases, students are invited to record their observations. The experiments with the two solutions are then repeated with a standard filter for a Buchner funnel.


Equipment and chemicals

The experiment uses the infrastructure and materials available in a university-level chemistry laboratory (see Information on teaching support and notes to students), as well as certain additions, which can be easily obtained:

• Kitchen mixer with at least 800 W of power (eg Philips HR 2195/04)

• Mirror or glass plate (148 × 210 mm2 or larger area)

•           Tape

• Ruler with stainless steel edge or aluminum profile.

• Two plastic tanks for dilute hydrochloric acid and a double boiler.

• Cellulose acetate (Sigma-Aldrich n ° 180955)

• Calcium carbonate (Sigma-Aldrich No. 21069)

• Watercolor (for example, Artists Loft Fundamentals watercolor pans set on

• Food coloring (for example bright blue FCF E133)

Preparation of a solution of cellulose acetate polymer

Preparation of the cellulose acetate dispersion

All of the cellulose acetate membrane filter was transferred to a kitchen mixer. Then, 41 g of calcium carbonate and 17.6 g of glycerol were added, and the suspension was stirred for 3 minutes in the highest setting of the kitchen mixer. The dispersion was placed in a new 250 ml Schott bottle and closed to limit evaporation of the solvent. The kitchen mixer was immediately filled with water to precipitate the remaining dispersion and the polymer waste was deposited in household waste.

Removal of calcium carbonate particles

To remove the calcium carbonate particles, a plastic container was filled with 5 L of water and another container with 5 L of hydrochloric acid (0.24 M). The mirror plate containing the membrane sheet was then immersed in the hydrochloric acid bath. The membrane sheet was released from the mirror plate, and gas bubbles indicated the removal of the calcium carbonate particles. After 10 minutes, the membrane sheet was transferred to the container containing only water and washed for an additional 5 minutes. Finally, the membrane sheet was removed from the water bath and placed on a cloth. Another kitchen towel was used to dry the membrane.

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Orlando Dermatologist Reports Coronavirus Rash- Sunlight Needed for Vitamin D

Chris Rynolds



Getting to deal with a whole new disease is very unsettling. No one has answers to anything, and that is enough to cause panic across any nation.

Well, that is precisely what is happening now with the Coronavirus. All the symptoms cropping up from different areas is bringing in more worry and doubt. The Coronavirus is an upper respiratory disease that gets in the way of your breathing, and it makes it harder for air passage in and out of the lungs. And now, there is something else worrisome — the Coronavirus rash.

So what is this rash, and where has it come from?

Is there any relation between skin rashes and Coronavirus

Doctor around the world including any Orlando dermatologist attest that it is not unusual to see skin rashes on someone infected with a viral infection. Just like herpes that appears around the lips and chickenpox that present all over the body.

The reasons this can happen is one, the rashes are a by-product of a robust immune system fighting against the virus. And two, it could be that the virus is directly affecting the skin cells as in the case of the chickenpox. Studies on the sources and targets of the coronavirus rash are still unknown.

The rashes have manifested in several ways so far. These are:

  • Head to toe rashes
  • Hive-like eruptions
  • Blisters
  • Purple rashes across the body
  • Bumps and lesions on the heels and toes

Now, what is perplexing is that these rashes are presenting on younger coronavirus patients. But any Orlando dermatologist should not make any conclusions yet as it is known that sometimes viral infections can impact almost every organ in the body, including the skin. The astonishing part is that the rashes are presenting differently from one patient to the other.

Types of rashes reported

Livedo Reticularis

The first kind of rash is the Livedo reticularis which is a vascular condition. It is characterized by mottled, purplish discolourations that mostly appear in the legs and appear to form a net-like pattern.


This rash appears like a bright red, pinpoint rash that is commonly seen in other ailments. It is caused by bleeding under the skin.


A vesicular rash is diagnosed when a rash appears in the same spot as multiple vesicles with fluid trapped under the top layer of skin. The blisters are painful to touch, which make it hard to resist touching because they are itchy.

Acral Ischemia

This is a chicken-pox-like rash that appears specifically on the toes. It seems to be raised, looks like frostbite because of the purple lesions. These rashes are what has been named the COVID toes.


These rashes look like measles rashes. They consist of maculopapular skin eruptions and are mostly because of hypersensitivity in patients taking antiretroviral and antiepileptic drugs. It is also a common outcome in viral infections like Coronavirus.


These are commonly known as hives or nettle rash. They are an outbreak of red bumps that are mostly triggered by several things, include medication reactions, allergies and infections.

Is there a cure for these rashes?

Any Orlando dermatologist would love to say that there is, but there is no known cure for the rashes. What doctors are doing is keeping the lesions in control using anti-inflammatory medications. And the fact that they are presenting in different forms makes it more challenging to come up with one specific cure.

With that said, it is still advisable for anyone showing any of the above symptoms to seek medical assistance immediately. Not all rashes are a result of Coronavirus, so it is safe to see a doctor first. So eat right and know that sunlight needed for vitamin D, especially in people of colour is essential too.

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