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Pandemic flu, like seasonal H1N1, shows signs of resisting Tamiflu
Date:3/1/2010

ess frequent use of the drug or to the possibility that mutations leading to resistance to Relenza aren't tolerated by the virus itself, so those strains die off.

Janies noted that there is another phenomenon with flu that could further make the pandemic strains difficult to treat. In at least 50 geographic regions identified by the analysis, both seasonal and pandemic H1N1 viruses are co-circulating, including Tamiflu-resistant strains. Because the flu virus in general is not precise when it makes copies of itself, this means that a drug-susceptible pandemic strain might exchange a gene with a drug-resistant viral strain and add it to the new genome.

"And then we would have drug-resistant pandemic influenza without any mutation. It's a random swap of the whole gene," Janies said of this phenomenon, which is called reassortment.

"That's how we got into this situation with pandemic influenza. We have something that's called pandemic H1N1, but all of its internal genes are different. It underwent a few rounds of reassortment and it's a virus we've never seen before because its genome is highly reshuffled compared to seasonal H1N1. This same process could confer resistance to a drug," he said.

The researchers have plotted areas where pandemic influenza and drug-resistant seasonal influenza circulate together into Google Earth using software called Pointmap. Regions in the United States and Japan are among those in which pandemic flu isolates carry the Tamiflu-resistant mutation. The regions of co-circulation can be seen at http://pointmap.osu.edu.


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Contact: Daniel Janies
daniel.janies@osumc.edu
614-292-1202
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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