Posts Tagged ‘avian flu’

Five Mutations Make H5N1 Airborne | The Scientist

23 June, 2012

See on Scoop.itVirology News

“After more than 6 months of heated discussion, the second group that succeeded in making the H5N1 avian flu transmissible between ferrets, considered a good model for human transmission, has published its results. The paper, which came out today (June 21) in Science, demonstrates that only five mutations are needed to confer this aerosol transmissibility among mammals, and that re-assortment between different types of viruses—a technique used by the other group, which published its results last month in Nature—is not necessary.

Said Fouchier in a press conference “We both find … loss of glycosylation at the tip of the HA molecule, and this loss of glycosylation seems to increase the receptor binding specificity of the HA”. And though not all the mutations identified in the two studies match, “the mutations that are not identical still have a similar phenotypic trait,” he added.”


So this is what all the fuss was about?  This is what the NSABB did not want everyone to know?  How could they POSSIBLY think that the international virology and infectious disease community should be kept in the dark about this?  What this work has done has pointed the way along a path that will lead us to understand why and how influenza viruses change in order to more effectively get transmitted when they switch hosts – which is a good thing, surely.

And yet all they see is bioterrorism.

See on

Worst virus EVER!!

3 January, 2012

Sigh…looks like we’re still all going to die…Science’s comment section has the following article from November 23:

Scientists Brace for Media Storm Around Controversial Flu Studies

My comment to the article:

“”This work should never have been done,” says Richard Ebright.”

Really? We shouldn’t know just what makes H5N1 flu aerosol-transmissible in ferrets, and potentially also in humans? And more to the point, people in countries where the virus is now endemic, and busy evolving without the permission of the NSABB or any other agency, shouldn’t know what to look for?

I am also concerned over the scare factor that keeps getting invoked: the same thing was said about reviving the 1918 H1N1, and the same counter can be made.


H5N1 just rolls on, and on, and on….

31 August, 2011

It is a very interesting phenomenon, in the annals of influenza viruses, that avian H5N1 just keeps rolling on, and on, and on.  It was already the longest-lasting and most serious animal pandemic several years ago, and has caused immense economic damage.  And now – it seems to just get worse.  From Vaccine Nation:

H5N1 kills up to 60% of the people it infects. It has resurfaced in recent months, most notably in Cambodia where it has infected eight people this year, killing all of them.

Reuters report that the call came after the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned on Monday of a possible resurgence of bird flu and said a mutant strain of the H5N1 was spreading in Asia and beyond.

While scientists are uncertain if this new strain — called H5N1- — is more virulent in people, they said it was different enough from its predecessor to escape a human H5N1 vaccine that can tackle the parent strain.

recombining flu viruses

I have blogged a lot on influenza viruses and their vaccines – search this site via the facility to your right! – and I can only reiterate what I have said a few times already: we really, really need to have some way of rapidly responding to emerging flu viruses, including new and nasty variants of H5N1.

And a very good way of doing that, given a VERY low barrier to entry in terms of manufacturing cost compared to conventional vaccines, is via plants.  Several companies, including Medicago Inc, have embraced the use of transient expression in plants as a means of rapidly producing both seasonal and pandemic flu vaccines – and I will blog on that technology soon.

Meantime, let’s just hope the new technologies can keep pace with the evolution of the viruses they are aimed at combatting.  And that someone will actually fund us to do something for our country!