A new finding could help explain why influenza becomes a life-threatening disease for some people but has only mild effects in others. Research led by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute has identified for the first time a human gene that influences how we respond to influenza infection.
People who carry a particular variant of the gene IFITM3 are significantly more likely to be hospitalised when they fall ill with influenza than those who carry other variants, the team found. This gene plays a crucial part in protecting the body against infection with influenza, and a rare version of it seems to make people more susceptible to severe forms of the disease. The results are published in the journal 'Nature'.
March 26, 2012, 2:31 p.m.