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Tamiflu-resistant influenza: Parsing the genome for the culprits
Date:3/31/2014

enomenon, and other mutations."

New resistant mutations are discovered

To begin, the team led by Jensen and his colleague Matthieu Foll cultured ordinary H1N1 virus in the laboratory. Certain groups were subjected to Tamiflu, others not. Every 48 hours 13 generations the biologists sequenced the virus' genome to reveal the genetic mutations that had occurred in the interval.

The more the genetic mutations of viruses exposed to Tamiflu tended to become prevalent with time, the higher the probability that they would confer resistance. With a complex statistics-based software tool, the researchers were able to pinpoint 12 sites on the viral genome that carried suspect variations. One of these was already known, but the rest had not yet been identified.

Weeding out the resistance-conferring mutations

Using their statistical software, the researchers were able to comb through the immensity of the viral genetic code and identify only the mutations that were suspected to cause resistance, with a certainty of more than 99% - making their software a powerful tool indeed.

And these newly discovered mutations are reason for concern: they could allow the virus to be resistant while maintaining an elevated reproductive capacity. Jensen thus doesn't exclude the possibility that pathogenic strains could appear that are both competitive and Tamiflu-resistant, if the mistake of 2008-2009 is repeated. For Foll, first author on the study, "the risk is real, and we need to investigate further."


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Contact: Lionel Pousaz
lionel.pousaz@epfl.ch
41-795-597-161
Ecole Polytechnique Fdrale de Lausanne
Source:Eurekalert

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