Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cyber exploring the 'ecosystems' of influenzas

06.08.2009
Predicting the infection patterns of influenzas requires tracking both the ecology and the evolution of the fast-morphing viruses that cause them, said a Duke University researcher who enlists computers to model such changes.

A single mutation can put a flu virus on a new-enough path to re-infect people who had developed immunity to its previous form, said Katia Koelle, a Duke assistant professor of biology.

For example, a commonplace Influenza A virus known as H3N2 emerged in 1968. But since then fully one-third of the component amino acids in its hemagglutinin protein -- the "H" in H3N2 -- have changed.

"That's a huge amount of evolution," Koelle said. "If there's a new escape mutant that can actually so change the protein's configuration that our antibodies can't recognize the virus anymore, that means it's going to have a huge advantage and infect more of us.

"How much of an advantage the new virus strain has will depend on how many people have gotten infected in the past. So the epidemiological dynamics will shape the evolutionary dynamics. And vice versa, the evolutionary dynamics will shape the epidemiological dynamics because mutations of the virus will allow people to become re-infected."

Koelle's group at Duke has developed a two-tiered model to simulate that interplay in such viruses, allowing scientists to "quantitatively reproduce the patterns we observe," she said.

Koelle is scheduled to describe her work at 10:25 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5, during a symposium (http://eco.confex.com/eco/2009/techprogram/S4132.HTM) at the 2009 Ecological Society of America annual meeting in Albuquerque.

"We're interested in having a flexible and simple model that would not only be able to reproduce the dynamics of H3N2 but also help us understand how flu evolves differently in different hosts," Koelle added. For example, H3N2 (not to be confused with the H1N1 "swine flu" virus) also has been circulating in pigs, with the virus showing distinctly different evolutionary patterns in these hosts.

One of her group's models is focusing on that difference, which she suspects is linked to man's and animals widely disparate lifespans -- about 80 years for humans versus under 2 for farm-raised hogs.

"The virus doesn't have to evolve rapidly to avoid being wiped out by the pigs' immunity to it," she said. "That's because there are always many more susceptible new hosts coming into the pig population."

Another challenge is Influenza B, a comparatively mild virus that infects mostly children but is complicated by the fact that two genetically distinct strain lineages circulate in human populations. During any given flu season, only one B sequence predominates, presenting a challenge for vaccine makers who must choose between them.

"They have to make an educated guess about which influenza B lineage is going to be the main one that season," Koelle said. "Sometimes there is a big B outbreak when it turns out to be the one not included in the vaccine."

Monte Basgall | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.duke.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Waste in the water – New purification techniques for healthier aquatic ecosystems
24.07.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

nachricht Plenty of habitat for bears in Europe
24.07.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>