Tried everything and still got the flu
this year? While some friends and colleagues always seem to avoid it. Well, they may have more than luck on their side. Scientists have discovered that however hard you try to avoid it; flu is in your genes.
A study on British volunteers shows that some people are genetically predisposed to stave off the illness, while others are struck down year after year.
Researchers inoculated 17 healthy people with the flu virus and monitored their progress for five days.
Of the sample, nine became ill and the rest showed no symptoms at all.
Using technology usually employed in satellite imaging, they examined the genes in the subjects’ blood samples every eight hours.
Those who became sick developed an acute inflammation
on certain genes 36 hours before the symptoms set in. This "genetic signature" was most marked in those who were suffering the worst.
Meanwhile, those who remained fine were found to have activated a totally different genetic signature.
The scientists interpreted this signature as an "anti-stress response" that showed their bodies were actively fighting off the virus. This discovery raises the possibility that experts could find a way to detect flu early, and take preventative action before the worst effects develop.
Professor Peter Openshaw, of the Centre for Respiratory Infection at Imperial College, said: "This is a very important science. It has very big implications for many infectious
diseases, not only flu.