"People’s susceptibility to flu and other viruses can often be traced to our DNA and whether we have the gene for a particular protein which blocks viruses entering our cells. It is described as a universal block. The gene, IFITM3 blocks dengue virus, ebola, influenza viruses, and the corona viruses which cause SARS and MERS. The proteins produced by the gene make the cell membrane more difficult for the virus to traverse. Paul Kellam (virus genomics group leader at the renowned Sanger Centre in Cambridge) and his colleagues are working on understanding this process in the hope of developing broad range antiviral treatments."
Australia's Radio National Science Show Podcast: