Home > Medical > Genetics > News 17 September 2013 Cold sores linked to a gene mutation Scientists have finally discovered why some people are prone to cold sores while others are not. 0 Shutterstock Related Cold sores Check Assess your diabetes risk » Quiz Am I at risk for COPD? » Ask CyberDoc » 10 ways to boost your metabolism World's Most Famous TB Patients Why some people are troubled by cold sores while others are not has finally been explained by scientists.Cold sores affect around one in five people but, until now, no one has been sure why some are more prone to the virus that causes them.Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have found that people affected by cold sores have a mutation in a gene, which means their immune system is not able to prevent them from developing. Cold sores are caused by a strain of the herpes simplex virus herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). Between 80 and 90% of people are infected with the virus, but only about a quarter of them get frequent cold sores.Scientists analysed thousands of genes to identify which ones expressed the proteins needed by the body's immune system to prevent the virus from becoming active and – as a result – cold sores from developing.Inadequate immune responseThey then looked at blood samples from people with cold sores and found that one of the genes previously identified – IL28b – was mutated. This genetic mutation means that the body is not able to mount an adequate immune response to the virus, which results in cold sores.The gene identified is also linked to treatment responses for hepatitis C patients. If this gene is mutated, patients are less likely to respond as well to treatment. The link is further evidence that a single genetic mutation can be linked to different viruses.The study, published in the journal Plos Pathogens, was funded by the Medical Research Council, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Wellcome Trust and the European Union.Professor Juergen Haas, of the University of Edinburgh's Division of Pathway Medicine, said: "Most people carry the cold sore strain of the herpes simplex virus, but until now we never knew why only some of them develop cold sores. "Knowing that susceptibility to the virus involved relates to people's genes reinforces the need to research, not only the evolution of viruses themselves, but also the susceptibility of hosts to infection." (Picture: cold sore from Shutterstock) EurekAlert More in Medical Genes may determine how much pain you can take More: GeneticsNews SPONSORED: We want your Facebook like Join our Facebook community and help us reach 100 000 likes fast! advertisement Get a quote Momentum - save up to 35% on healthcare advertisement Read Health24’s Comments Policy Comment on this story 0 comments Add your comment Thank you, your comment has been submitted. Logout Comment 0 characters remaining Share on Facebook Logout Comment 0 characters remaining Share on Facebook Loading comments... Other news Sex Lesbians have more orgasms Medical Arthritis sufferers should be urged to be wary of kidney problems Medical Involuntary eye movement a way to better diagnose ADHD Medical Blood transfusions may cut risk of 'silent' stroke in kids with sickle cell Medical Breast reconstruction after mastectomy: yes or no? Lifestyle Early, heavy pot use tied to later-life disability From our sponsors Keep your pet's teeth in tip top condition Cape Town's legendary Blisters for Bread walk 2014. Occlusal disease - a modern day dental problem Eduloan offers affordable education finance Live healthier Winter Wellness » Boost winter health Happy feet in winter Don’t become a winter blimp Tips to stay fit and healthy in winter When it's cold it's easy to pick up the coughs and sniffles, and it's even easier to indulge in comfort foods. Don't ! Vitamin wise » Vitamins for HIV What to eat for vitamin B? Cut down on vitamins Get your vitamins right Find out which vitamin to use for which condition. Ask our Vitamin expert.