Your genes may make you more vulnerable to flu and other viruses

a ddb d b b
Image credit: Shutterstock

Bad luck. Terrible misfortune. That’s what we think when we hear about a perfectly healthy child who suddenly dies of influenza, a virus most of us can shake off. But what if it isn’t luck? What if this kind of deadly infection turns out to be, well, genetic?

Crazy as that sounds, there is a growing body of research that supports the idea. Much of it has been led by Jean-Laurent Casanova, a pediatric immunologist and geneticist at the Rockefeller University.

He hypothesized that some of us harbor genetic mutations, whether inherited or spontaneous, that make us susceptible to a particular germ, much the way certain strains of wheat are genetically vulnerable to a particular blight.

Related article:  'BrainNet' experiment allows people to communicate by thought, 'blurring fundamental notions about individual identity'

[Casanova has] identified dozens of single-gene mutations causing this kind of vulnerability. These mutations do not devastate defenses, as with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), once known as “bubble boy” syndrome and now treated with bone marrow transplants. Instead, Casanova explains, “these are pathogen-specific diseases caused by inborn errors of immunity that are very narrow—sometimes [involving] one virus, one bacterium.”

[T]hese surprising discoveries are creating a paradigm shift in how we think about severe infection. “This work makes the case that we should shift a little of our attention from the germ to the host, or child,” says Isabelle Meyts, a pediatric immunologist.

Read full, original post: Extreme Flu? Weird Encephalitis? It May Be Your Genes

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

As Europe sees record coronavirus cases and deaths, Slovakia is testing its entire adult population. WSJ's Drew Hinshaw explains how ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend