Genetic variant linked to flu vulnerability

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Researchers in Australia have found a genetic marker which will be able to identify patients who will be extremely vulnerable to a new strain of flu in China.

By studying blood and lung samples, researchers at the University of Melbourne identified a certain genetic variant of a protein which can lead to patients being extremely vulnerable to the influenza virus. The variant leads to higher levels to cytokines, which can mean patients experience very severe symptoms.

“We are exploring how genetic sequencing and early identification can allow us to intervene in treating patients before they become too unwell,” lead study author Professor Peter Doherty, AC, was quoted as saying. “As new cases of influenza emerge in the Northern Hemisphere, we try to keep a season ahead and prepare to protect the most vulnerable in our community.”