credit: cc0 public domainresearchers funded by the swiss national science foundation (snsf) have discovered mutations that worsen respiratory infections among children. their study explain the mechanism involved. colds that are not linked to influenza are generally benign. still, 2 percent of each generation of children have to go to hospital following a virulent infection. `these respiratory problems are responsible for 20 percent of child mortality around the world`, says jacques fellay, who has held an snsf professorship since 2011. `it is truly a silent epidemic.`an international research collaboration coordinated by fellay has discovered the reason for some of these infections: they are caused by mutations of a gene that plays a part in recognising certain cold-inducing viruses.`we have been able to confirm that a gene, called ifih1, plays an important role in defending the body against the principal viruses responsible for respiratory infections among children`, he explains. this gene normally helps in identifying the virus's rna, a type of genetic information related to the dna. `we have been able to isolate the mechanisms that prevent the immune systems of children with an ifih mutation from successfully combating the viral infection.`hospitals in switzerland and australiathe researchers collaborated with various paediatric wards in swiss and australian hos...