Using a gene resurrected from the virus that caused the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic, recorded historys most lethal outbreak of infectious disease, scientists have found that a single gene may have been responsible for the devastating virulence of the virus.
Writing today (Oct. 7, 2004) in the journal Nature, virologist Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Tokyo, describes experiments in which engineered viruses were made more potent by the addition of a single gene. The work is evidence that a slight genetic tweak is all that is required to transform mild strains of the flu virus into forms far more pathogenic and, possibly, more transmissible.
The results of the new work promise to help scientists understand why the 1918 pandemic, a worldwide outbreak of influenza that killed 20 million people, spread so quickly and killed so efficiently, says Kawaoka, who has studied influenza viruses for 20 years. The finding also lends insight into the ease with which animal forms of the virus, particularly avian influenza, can shift hosts with potentially catastrophic results.
Yoshihiro Kawaoka | EurekAlert!
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Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
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The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
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