Risk of infection in humans too – medical practice

Risk of infection in humans too - medical practice

Avian flu: increased risk of infection due to genes

Avian influenza – also known as avian influenza – is transmitted by various flu viruses and is particularly dangerous to chicken birds. But people can also become infected with pathogens and become ill. Researchers are now reporting that a mutated defense gene increases the risk of infection.

like Website the federal government is declared bird flu A disease that has been known for more than 100 years and is caused by the influenza virus (influenza A virus). There are 16 known subspecies of this virus type (the so-called H subtype). People can also get infected by it. Scientists in Germany and China are researching why bird flu viruses manage to overcome some people’s immune systems.

Animal viruses can spread to humans

The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has effectively shown that animal viruses can be transmitted to humans. The transmission of pathogens from animals to humans, so-called zoonoses, can often cause serious diseases and even trigger global pandemics.

A research team from the Medical Faculty of Freiburg University, Sun Yat-Sen University in Shenzhen, China, and the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Beijing, China, is investigating what factors prevent bird flu viruses from infecting humans or humans. stop. .

according to recent Message Scientists have now been able to identify a human antiviral protein that is critically involved in preventing people from becoming infected with avian influenza virus, the bird flu virus.

The researchers recently published their findings in the specialist journal “Science“.

Risk Factors Identified

“Until now, it has been difficult to predict why some people become seriously ill from bird flu. We are now able to identify a risk factor in humans,” explains Prof. Dr. University Medical Center Freiburg. Martin Schwemle, research group leader at the Institute for Virology in the U.S.

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Patients infected with the H7N9 type of avian influenza virus were more likely to have mutations in their mx1 gene than the general population. The MX1 gene codes for the antiviral protein MXA, which experts say is an essential part of genetic virus defense in humans.

In previous studies, the Freiburg researchers were able to show that the defense protein MXA inhibits the multiplication of avian influenza viruses more strongly than seasonal flu viruses, which have already adapted to humans. The mutations now discovered have completely lost the ability of MXA to fight avian influenza virus.

“The laboratory-based results of our previous work already indicated that MXA may play an important role in protection against avian influenza virus. However, until now there has been no evidence from the human population that MXA actually has such an important function in humans,” said Dr. Laura Graf, molecular medicine specialist at the Institute for Virology at the University Medical Center Freiburg.

Better protect risk groups

The results of the present study suggest that carriers of the inactivated MXA protein are at increased risk of infection with bird flu virus and elucidate that MX1 is one of the most important genetic protective factors against bird flu outbreaks in the human population.

“Fortunately, the mutations identified in this study are very rare,” Graf explains. Nevertheless, the results of this scientific work may help to better protect at-risk groups.

The main risk factor for becoming infected with avian influenza virus is contact with poultry. People who have had intense commercial contact with poultry can be specifically tested for mutations in the MXA protein. (advertisement)

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Author and source information

This text complies with the requirements of specialist medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.


  • University Hospital Freiburg: Avian flu: mutated defense genes increase the risk of infection, (Accessed: 08/22/2021), University Hospital Freiburg
  • Yongkun Chen, Laura Graf, Tao Chen, Qijun Liao, Tian Bai, Philip P. Patrick, Wenfei Zhu, Lei Yang, Ji Dong, Jian Lu, Ying Chen, Xuan Shen, Otto Haller, Peter Steheli, George Koch, Dayan Wang, Martin Schwemley, Yulong Shu: Human susceptibility to the rare variant MX1 allele zoonotic H7N9 influenza virus increase; In: Science, (veröffentlicht: 20.08.2021), Science
  • Federal Government: Questions and Answers on Bird Flu, (Accessed: August 22, 2021), federal government

Important Articles:
This article is for general guidance only and is not to be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He cannot take the place of visiting the doctor.

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