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St. Jude influenza survey uncovers key differences between bird flu and human flu
Date:8/20/2007

hey sparked the outbreak. The researchers showed that 13 of the 32 markers identified by their survey had remained stable in these viruses, and, like the other viruses, these markers were distributed among PB2, PA, NP and M1the proteins linked to virus replication. This suggests that these 13 sites are required for pandemic influenza to fully function, Finkelstein said.

The researchers also showed that the H1N1 virus that caused the 1918 pandemicthe most deadly pandemic knownalready contained 13 of the 32 markers early in the outbreak; and acquired the other 19 markers within 10 to 20 years, acquiring the preferred human influenza amino acids in stages. Eventually, descendents of the pandemic virus became the seasonal flu outbreaks rather than deadly pandemics.

While we cant directly estimate how long it would take an avian virus such as H5N1 to acquire these traits, we can use these markers to roughly measure the distance between an avian influenza and a pandemic, said Clayton Naeve, Ph.D., St. Jude Hartwell Center director and the papers senior author.

The current study used data obtained in part from the first large-scale study of avian influenza virus genomes, conducted at St. Judes Hartwell Center, which doubled the amount of genetic information available on the genes and proteins of these viruses. The aim of that project was to enable researchers to gain insights into H5N1 and to provide the first fundamental insight into the evolution of influenza viruses in naturethe source of all influenza viruses that affect humans, domestic animals and birds.


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Contact: Summer Freeman
summer.freeman@stjude.org
901-495-3061
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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