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Archive for March 17th, 2006

New Study Describes Key Protein From Highly Pathogenic H5N1 Avian Flu Virus And How It Might Mutate

Posted by tumicrobiology on March 17, 2006

The recent spread of deadly H5N1 influenza A virus among birds in Asia, Europe, and Africa has been the focus of much attention and concern worldwide–largely because of the danger that the virus will mutate into a form that will become easily transmissible from person to person.

In a March 16 article published online by Science, a research team led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute in California reveals the structure of an H5 protein from a highly pathogenic strain of H5N1 avian influenza virus and compares this structure to the same proteins from other pandemic influenza A viruses, including the deadly 1918 virus.

Further, they discuss a potential route whereby H5N1 might mutate and acquire human specificity. The work also describes the application of a new technology called glycan microarrays, which can be used to determine whether H5 proteins from various strains of H5N1 target human or bird cells and map how their specificity is changing.

ARTICLE: “Structure and Receptor Specificity of the Hemagglutinin from an H5N1 Influenza Virus,” James Stevens et al. Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1124513 (2006).

NIAID and NIGMS are components of the National Institutes of Health. NIAID supports basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose and treat infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, influenza, tuberculosis, malaria and illness from potential agents of bioterrorism. NIAID also supports research on transplantation and immune-related illnesses, including autoimmune disorders, asthma and allergies. NIGMS supports basic biomedical research that is the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.


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