Unique resources at St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital let researchers generate a "gold mine" of data to track evolution of bird flu virus genes and understand how they cooperate to cause disease
Investigators at St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital have completed the first large-scale study of bird flu virus genomes, thereby doubling the amount of genetic information available on the genes and proteins of these viruses. The results of the project could lead to major insights into the bird flu virus known as H5N1, the researchers said. H5N1 is the bird flu virus currently infecting humans in Asia and Eastern Europe, and flu experts fear it could mutate in a way that would allow it to cause a worldwide pandemic in humans.
"These studies provide the first fundamental insight into the evolution of influenza viruses in nature--the source of all influenza viruses that affect humans, domestic animals and birds," said Robert G. Webster, Ph.D., a member of the Infectious Diseases department and holder of the Rose Marie Thomas Chair at St. Jude. "This information is a true gold mine, and we are inviting all of the miners to help us unlock the secrets of influenza."
Bonnie Kourvelas | EurekAlert!
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