Genetic mutations can help prevent flu deaths
Researchers studied tissue and blood samples from a single test subject, a two-and-a-half-year-old girl contracted the flu and experienced acute respiratory distress syndrome. She was hospitalized and almost died, but fortunately she survived and the researchers used her blood and tissue to learn that her rare genetic mutation inhibits her body’s production of interferon, an important protein in the body’s immune response against influenza.
"This is the first example of a common, isolated and life-threatening infection of childhood that is shown to be also a genetic disease," Rockefeller University professor and the study's lead scientist Jean-Laurent Casanova said. "This finding suggests that one could treat severe flu of childhood with interferon, which is commercially available.”
Every year, a small number of children contract the flu and require hospitalization. In rare cases they even require ventilators to continue breathing, while their friends and family do not have such serious symptoms from the flu. These results could help scientists develop a new, more effective flu treatment.