Interreg COOfHea: an ambitious research to fight the virus

Territorial cooperation and pandemic: Greece and Italy fight the virus with research and join an international research network on COVID-19

An ambitious research project to study the correlation between the genetic profile of a person and his response to Covid19 infection: this is the ambitious challenge of the project “COOFHEA – COOperation For HEAlth” funded by the INTERREG V-A programme GREECE-ITALY 2014-20, coordinated by the Puglia Region – Citizen’s Security, Migration Policies and Social Antimafia Section and the University of Bari “A. Moro”.

In these months of pandemic, the entire scientific community has been questioning the link between the genetic aspects of a community of people and the reaction to the virus. Research and analysis of the genetic differences of populations make it possible to collect data in order to adopt customised and preventative measures.

The research that will be carried out in Puglia, thanks to the European project, will make it possible to study the human genome of about 200 residents, through the analysis of a sample formed by young people under 50 who have contracted the infection in a serious form despite not having fragility conditions or risk factors, and people who, despite exposure to the virus for reasons of close cohabitation with infected and symptomatic subjects, have been immune to infection because they were negative.
Genome sequencing of this group of people will be made with the equipment of the Centre of Excellence for Chemical Sciences in Bari.

The data produced by the massive sequencing will be shared among the researchers of the International Consortium “Covid-Human Genetic Effort” in order to have a sufficiently representative sample to define the genetic traits that give susceptibility and resistance to the SARS-Cov-2 infection with the consequential effects in the field of diagnostics, prognostics and development of “customized” therapies.

Thanks to this research, the University of Bari is part of an important international research network, which will give prestige to the COOFHEA project and to Interreg Greece Italy Programme.

The project, funded for 3,400 million euro, is led by the Presidency of the Puglia Region – Citizen’s Security, Migration Policies and Social Antimafia Section in agreement with 9 Greek hospitals, the hospital of Ioannina in the Region of Epirus, the hospitals of “PANAGIA I VOITHIA” and “Agios Andreas” of Patras with the hospital of Ilia and Etoloakarnania in the Region of Western Greece, the hospital of Corfu, Zakynthos, Kefalonia and Lefkada in the Ionian Islands.