A gene increases the severity of common colds

Researchers funded by the SNSF have discovered mutations that worsen respiratory infections among children. Their study explain the mechanism involved.

Colds that are not linked to influenza are generally benign. Still, 2% of each generation of children have to go to hospital following a virulent infection. "These respiratory problems are responsible for 20% of child mortality around the world", says Jacques Fellay, who has held an SNSF professorship since 2011. "It is truly a silent epidemic."

An international research collaboration coordinated by Fellay has discovered the reason for some of these infections: they are caused by mutations of a gene that plays a part in recognising certain cold-inducing viruses.

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