As health agencies around the world race to pinpoint the cause of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), researchers are reporting success in developing a new theoretical model that shows how the pressure exerted by the immune response of an infected population can drive evolution of influenza virus.
The model does not aim to predict the emergence of new strains of influenza, but it does suggest that a short-lived general immunity to the virus might affect the viruss evolution. If immunologists can understand the basis of such a response by influenza virus, then vaccine designers might use that understanding to develop a vaccine that offers more general immunity to the virus, said the scientists.
The researchers — led by Howard Hughes Medical Institute international research scholar Neil M. Ferguson at Imperial College London — published an article outlining their model in the March 27, 2003, issue of the journal Nature. Co-authors are Alison Galvani from the University of California,at Berkeley, and Robin Bush from the University of California, Irvine.
Jim Keeley | Howard Hughes Medical Institute
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