Colds that are not linked to influenza are generally benign. Still, 2% of each generation of children have to go to hospital following a virulent infection. "These respiratory problems are responsible for 20% 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.

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