NIAID scientists discover rare genetic susceptibility to common cold

Unusual case provides insight into leading cause of acute illness worldwide.

Scientists have identified a rare genetic mutation that results in a markedly increased susceptibility to infection by human rhinoviruses (HRVs) — the main causes of the common cold. Colds contribute to more than 18 billion upper respiratory infections worldwide each year, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study.

Researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, identified the mutation in a young child with a history of severe HRV infections. The case, published online today in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, reveals an important mechanism by which the immune system responds to these viruses, say the study authors.

Photo of an assortment of cold medicines beside a box of tissues.

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This page was last updated on Friday, January 21, 2022