Thursday, January 26, 2006

January 26 Flu Update

National Geographic reports on the first large-scale genomic analysis of the flu virus, which has doubled genetic information available.

"We've observed that avian viruses have a molecular characteristic that human viruses do not," Naeve said.

"That allows them to interact with human cells and potentially shut down pathways in human cells. That finding gives us a whole new means by which viruses interact with cells that we didn't understand before," he said.

"We believe this may be important in [determining] virulence—in combination with other genes."

Reuters on the study listed above.

But Naeve's team may have identified a protein to watch. It is called NS, for non-structural protein, and is only made once the virus has infected a cell.

The avian versions seem to allow the virus to do much more damage to a cell than the human versions of NS, Naeve said.

"We were surprised to see a lot of variation in this NS protein. That was the clue. We felt it must be playing an important biological role," he said.

It is possible that a mutation that would allow a flu virus to more easily infect people will weaken the NS protein, Naeve said. But no one knows.

Branswell on the mutation story.

From Indonesia, a reported 15th death in a 22M chicken peddler.

At the US Conference of Mayors meeting, Mayors were asked to put bird flu right up there with crime and unemployment.

WHO is supporting strict rules on the early reporting of bird flu.

Perhaps alarmed by Turkey's feelings of superiority upon seeing the flu subside, the EU has urged them not to drop their guard.

Richard Branson of Virgin says that a pandemic could ground 70% of airline flights.

Romanian poultry farmers are hurting due to bird flu, and what a new tax on imported birds to compensate them.

Traditional Lunar New Year chicken meals are apparently still popular.

They have a bird flu plan in New Brunswick, which is in Canada. (Just kidding). And its based on Worst Case Scenarios.

On the vaccine front, University of Pittsburgh scientists say they have engineered a flu virus that is 100% effective in chicken and mice.

The Health Director in Springfield, Missouri says the best way to fight the bird flu is to "stay vigilant." (I'm not kidding. I think she mixed it up with terror).

The UK has lifted antitrust laws to promote vaccine production during a pandemic.

Effect Measure with Part LV of the "China won't share story."

ProMed on North Korea and Indonesia.

H5 confirmed in Cypriate Turkey, Recombiomics reports.


At 1:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who cares what Richard Branson of Virgin Airline thinks about the bird flu anyways.Please do not pollute your fine blog with comments from people worried about how much money they will lose because of a pandemic.


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