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Shades of 1918? New study compares avian flu with a notorious killer from the past
Date:2/10/2009

ss, which would point to H5N1's ability not only to disable the present infection but to block the body's ability to build immunity against later infection by the same type of virus.

Baskin points out that the new research presented to PNAS has been several years in the making, supported in part by her career award from the National Institute of Infectious Disease and by a large program project grant from the same. "The study was done at Battelle Biomedical Research Center, which had the required containment level, ABSL-3ag. These facilities are very rare and in great demand." Referring to the challenges of such complicated, long distance collaborations, she insists "you have to have just the right people to make something like this happen."

Continuing studies of host-pathogen responses at the tissue, cellular and molecular level may provide the understanding needed to stave off a viral pandemic, whether from H5N1 or some other emergent strain. Time is critical. Currently, the anti-viral known as Tamiflu, taken before or immediately after infection, offers the only known protection against highly pathogenic avian influenza and the first Tamiflu-resistant strains have already emerged.

In terms of how many modifications would be required for H5N1 to become a highly contagious human virus, Baskin expresses concern: "There have been some estimations and it's not a lot," she notes. "That's the short and simple answer."


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Contact: Joe Caspermeyer
joseph.caspermeyer@asu.edu
480-727-0369
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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