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Article Released Wed-15th-November-2006 22:13 GMT
Contact: Ruth Institution: Nature Publishing Group
 Avian Flu: Mutations mark pandemic potential?

Researchers have discovered two mutations in the H5N1 avian influenza virus that enable it to recognise human receptor proteins. The amino acid changes, might prove useful molecular markers for assessing the pandemic potential of H5N1 samples.


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This press release is copyright Nature.
VOL.444 NO.7117 DATED 16 NOVEMBER 2006

Avian Flu: Mutations mark pandemic potential? (pp 378-382)

Researchers have discovered two mutations in the H5N1 avian influenza virus that enable it to recognise human receptor proteins. The amino acid changes, reported online this week in Nature, might prove useful molecular markers for assessing the pandemic potential of H5N1 samples.

To replicate efficiently in humans and acquire the potential to cause a pandemic, it’s thought that bird influenza viruses must acquire the ability to recognize human host cell receptors. Yoshihiro Kawaoka and colleagues looked for mutations in a protein called haemagglutinin that sits on the surface of the H5N1 virus and binds with host receptor proteins. They found two separate mutations in the haemagglutinin of H5N1 viruses known to recognize avian receptors that enabled these viruses to recognize human receptors.

CONTACT

Yoshihiro Kawaoka (Institute of Medical Science, University of Tokyo, Japan)
Tel: +81 3 5449 5310: E-mail: kawaoka@ims.u-tokyo.ac.jp or kawaokay@svm.vetmed.wisc.edu

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Keywords associated to this article: avian flu
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