Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Enlisting genomics to understand flu evolution

26.07.2005


Multiple strains of the flu virus, circulating in a population at the same time, can reshuffle their genes and create a new virus, one capable of infecting many more people, according to a new study in the open-access journal PLoS Biology. This finding may help scientists make better predictions about which viral strains will attack during upcoming flu seasons and design more effective flu vaccines.



In the first large-scale effort to sequence the flu genome, Edward Holmes, David Lipman, and colleagues examined the genomes of 156 influenza A viruses (serotype H3N2) collected by New York State public health officials between 1999 and 2004. "We found that there are co-circulating minor variants that are not infecting many people," says Lipman. "One of these can become the next epidemic strain."

These co-circulating viruses can exchange genes in a way that creates novel, epidemiologically significant strains--a process that can occur when someone is infected simultaneously by more than one strain. The genetic reshuffling demonstrated in this study is the first to examine in detail a reassortment event from a persistently cocirculating minor strain to a previously dominant strain leading to an epidemiologically significant outcome--the emergence of the "Fujian" strain in the 2003-2004 flu season.


The Institute for Genomic Research, with funding from the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, sequenced the genomes of the collected flu viruses. Examining these sequences, Holmes et al. found that a relatively uncommon strain of virus contributed its hemagglutinin gene (a highly variable viral protein that must be recognized by the host’s immune defense system) to a virus common during the previous year. The reassorted virus suddenly became capable of infecting thousands. "The key thing here is that the general notion of epidemic flu is that there’s a series of successions by variants of the flu we got the previous year." But the new study shows that persistently cocirculating minor strains--which might be accumulating mutations with little obvious epidemiological consequences--can suddenly cause an epidemic with just one or two more mutations.

These results suggest that "the potential diversity is greater than we thought," says Lipman. "We need to have more comprehensive information on the entire genome [and] enough samples from around the world," he adds, to find the benign virus strain that will become next season’s scourge. The more genomes scientists collect--and the more refined the tools of genomics become--the greater the chances of developing more effective vaccines.

Paul Ocampo | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.plosbiology.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Atomic Design by Water
23.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH

nachricht Stiffness matters
22.02.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stiffness matters

22.02.2018 | Life Sciences

Magnetic field traces gas and dust swirling around supermassive black hole

22.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

First evidence of surprising ocean warming around Galápagos corals

22.02.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>