IMMUNE RESPONSE TO INFLUENZA VIRUS
Sometimes, an influenza infection can trigger an immune response that is so excessive it causes damage to a patient’s vital organs. This health crisis has been called a "cytokine storm". One of our goals is to understand it so we can prevent it from occurring and turn it off. In contrast, some children don’t mount enough of a response to influenza virus and can’t control it. We want to identify these children as they may need a different type of treatment.
WHEN BACTERIA CO-INFECT
We all have many types of bacteria that live inside and outside our body. Most of these bacteria help us to stay healthy. Unfortunately, when the influenza virus suppresses our immune system, bacteria that live in the upper respiratory tract can invade and cause a secondary bacterial pneumonia. We want to identify these complications rapidly and more effectively treat them to prevent lung damage.
THE ROLE OF OUR GENES
All of us have differences in our genes, which code for all of the proteins in our body. Most of these differences don’t influence our ability to fight influenza virus, but some differences do. In these cases, a child’s immune system does not mount an effective response to the flu because a gene is overproducing or not producing enough of an important protein. We need to identify these children to assist them in fighting influenza virus.