April 23, 2024

The risk of infection also in humans - the practice of healing

The risk of infection also in humans – the practice of healing

Avian influenza: increased risk of infection due to genes

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

like on website The federal government announced is Bird flu A disease known for more than 100 years and is caused by influenza viruses (influenza virus A). There are 16 known subtypes of this type of virus (called H subtypes). People can also get it. Scientists in Germany and China are researching why bird flu viruses are so successful at overpowering some people’s immune systems.

Animal viruses can spread to humans

The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has impressively shown that animal viruses can spread to humans. The transmission of pathogens from animals to humans, or zoonoses, often leads to serious diseases and may even lead to global epidemics.

A research team from the University of Freiburg Medical School, Sun Yat-sen University in Shenzhen, China, and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Beijing, China are investigating the factors that enable or prevent avian influenza viruses from infecting humans. .

According to the post Message Scientists have now succeeded in identifying the human antiviral protein that has a critical role in preventing people from becoming infected with the bird flu virus, that is, bird flu viruses.

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

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The risk factor has been identified

Until now, it has been difficult to speculate as to why some people have become seriously ill from bird flu. Now we have been able to identify the risk factor in humans,” explains Professor Dr. Martin Schwemmle, research group leader at the Institute of Virology at the University Medical Center Freiburg.

Patients infected with H7N9 avian influenza were more likely to carry mutations in their MX1 ​​genes than the general population. The MX1 genes code for the antiviral protein MxA, which, according to experts, is an essential part of the genetic defense of viruses in humans.

In previous studies, the Freiburg researchers were able to show that the defense protein MxA inhibits the replication of avian influenza viruses much more strongly than seasonal influenza viruses, which have already adapted to humans. Mutations now discovered have led to a complete loss of MxA’s ability to fight bird flu viruses.

Laboratory results from our previous work have already indicated that MxA can play an important role in defense against avian influenza viruses. However, so far there is no evidence from humans that MxA actually has such a major function in humans,” said Dr. Laura Graf, a specialist in molecular medicine at the Institute of Virology at the University Medical Center Freiburg.

Better protection for vulnerable groups

The results of the current study show that carriers of inactive MxA proteins have an increased risk of avian influenza virus infection and demonstrate that MX1 is one of the most important genetic protective factors against avian influenza outbreaks in humans.

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

The main risk factor for avian influenza virus infection is contact with poultry. People who have had extensive occupational contact with poultry can be tested specifically for mutations in the MxA protein. (ad)

Author and source information

This text complies with the requirements of the specialized medical literature, clinical guidelines and current studies and has been examined by medical professionals.


  • University Hospital Freiburg: Avian influenza: a mutated defense gene increases the risk of infection, (Accessed: 08/22/2021), University Hospital Freiburg
  • Yongkun Chen, Laura Graf, Tao Chen, Qijun Liao, Tian Bai, Philipp P. Petric, Wenfei Zhu, Lei Yang, Jie Dong, Jian Lu, Ying Chen, Juan Shen, Otto Haller, Peter Staeheli, Georg Kochs, Dayan Wang, Martin Schwemmle, Yuelong Shu: Rare variant MX1 alleles increase human susceptibility to H7N9 zoonotic influenza virus; In: Science, (veröffentlicht: 20.08.2021), Science
  • Federal Government: Bird Flu Questions and Answers, (Accessed: August 22, 2021), Federal government

important note:
This article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.