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Specially-bred mice help target an annual outbreak: the flu
Date:2/21/2012

PORTLAND, Ore As part of a national collaboration, Oregon Health & Science University researchers are studying specially bred mice that are more like humans than ever before when it comes to genetic variation. Through these mice, the researchers hope to better understand and treat an infectious disease that plagues us year in and year out: the flu.

The scientists aim to determine why some people suffer serious illness and even death when infected with influenza while others suffer only mild to moderate symptoms. The research is published in a special joint issue of the journals Genetics and G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics, both publications of the Genetics Society of America.

The research was conducted within the Pacific Northwest Regional Center for Excellence (PNWRCE) for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, a consortium of investigators with extensive expertise, and basic and translational research capacity directed at a broad range of pathogens. The cooperative effort has the goal of combating emerging or re-emerging infectious diseases that pose a serious threat to human health. The director of the PNWRCE is Jay Nelson, Ph.D., the founder and director of the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute at OHSU.

For decades, mice have played a key role in developing new treatments from the discovery of penicillin to the creation of polio vaccine. Because mice studied in labs are bred in a controlled manner, they are often genetically identical. Most of the time this is beneficial. The lack of genetic variation increases reproducibility and can help researchers more quickly determine a contributing factor to disease, but research on more complex diseases calls for mice to be more like humans who are genetically diverse. That's where this research project differs from many others.

The researchers are studying mice from the Collaborative Cross Program. Because these mice more closely reflect the genetic variatio
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Contact: Jim Newman
newmanj@ohsu.edu
503-494-8231
Oregon Health & Science University
Source:Eurekalert

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