A genetic finding could help explain why influenza becomes a life-threatening disease to some people while it has only mild effects in others. New 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 a gene called 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 critical role in protecting the body against infection with influenza and a rare version of it appears to make people more susceptible to severe forms of the disease. The results are published in the journal Nature.
Graphic courtesy Russell Kightley Media