Gene Explains Why Flu Can Be Serious
Scientists have finally found a gene responsible for flu susceptibility. Edinburgh University researchers working along with Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute near Cambridge examined the DNA of 60 patients in intensive care with flu in order to reach at this outcome. Researchers found out unusually high activity with a variant in a gene called IFITM3 in the condition of swine flu. Level of activity in gene also underlines the reason of people needing special attention of intensive care unit after contracting swine flu, while others remain unsure about being infected.
Basic function of IFITM3 is to produce protein, which also restricts spread of flu virus in the lungs. Owing to variation in the gene, less protein is produced. Therefore, flu virus spread quick and easy.
Pandemic mystery associated with the gene was uncovered by Dr Kenneth Baillie of Edinburgh University's Roslin Institute. He quoted, “During the pandemic it was very unusual for a healthy person to become desperately sick with flu but it did happen to some people. It was a mystery why it affected those people so severely when most people were hardly affected at all. This research explains a fraction of why those individuals were so susceptible."
This is the first instance of gene being linked with body's immunity. According to genetics experts, the finding will prove its importance while screening ones who are much in need of vaccination.
Dr. Kenneth Baillie, an expert in genetics and critical care, highlighted the idea of infectious diseases being genetic. He states that virus is mostly perceived as a component that either infects you or it doesn't.
Over the years, several studies have been conducted to find out genetic relation of various viruses. Such researches are preparing people to combat the flu challenge like getting vaccinated.
Source: Onlymyhealth editorial team Apr 07, 2012
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