Links between SARS, human genes discovered

Hong Kong researchers found that individuals with HLA-B*7303 gene type have much higher risk of getting Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) while those with HLA-DRB1*0131 gene type have much lower risk than the general population.

The Chinese University announced the findings at a press conference Thursday, saying the findings will lead to better understanding of the disease mechanisms of SARS and could help design the SARS prevention programs.

The study was made on 90 serologically confirmed Chinese SARS patients who had been treated in some Hong Kong hospitals when SARS prevailed in Hong Kong in the first half of last year.

The researchers made DNA based HLA gene typing on those 90 patients and compared the frequencies of HLA genes between SARS patients and the general Hong Kong Chinese population.

Researchers said the findings may also help explain why none of the staff of a Hong Kong hotel but only some residents contracted with SARS in mid-March last year and many staff, students of the Prince of Wales Hospital attached to the university did not have SARS even after prolonged exposure and family members in the same household units differentially affectedin Amoy Garden, where SARS hit quite a number of residents.

SARS infected more than 1,700 people and claimed 299 lives in Hong Kong in the first half of 2003 and Hong Kong has been keepingvigilance on SARS prevention since then.



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