Researcher Tweaks 2009 Pandemic Flu Virus to Make It More Lethal

Global Security Newswire Staff
Add to Briefcase
Global Security Newswire Staff
July 3, 2014, 9:03 a.m.

A re­search­er has mod­i­fied the 2009 pan­dem­ic flu vir­us to al­low it to evade the an­ti­bod­ies that hu­mans have de­veloped against it.

Uni­versity of Wis­con­sin-Madis­on sci­ent­ist Yoshi­hiro Kawaoka has slightly altered the ge­net­ic makeup of the H1N1 in­flu­enza strain in or­der to en­able it to break free of the im­mune sys­tem re­sponses that hu­mans have de­veloped to­ward the vir­us in re­cent years, the Lon­don Daily Tele­graph re­por­ted on Wed­nes­day.

Kawaoka has not yet pub­lished his re­search but said it is ready to be sub­mit­ted to a sci­entif­ic journ­al.

“Through se­lec­tion of im­mune es­cape vir­uses in the labor­at­ory un­der ap­pro­pri­ate con­tain­ment con­di­tions, we were able to identi­fy the key re­gions [that] would en­able 2009 H1N1 vir­uses to es­cape im­munity,” the re­search­er wrote in an email.

Kawaoka has car­ried out a num­ber of con­tro­ver­sial stud­ies in­volving flu vir­uses. He led a team of re­search­ers at the Uni­versity of Wis­con­sin in re­pro­du­cing nearly the en­tire vir­us that caused the deadly 1918 Span­ish flu out­break. He also con­duc­ted a study that mod­i­fied the H5N1 vir­us to make it more eas­ily trans­fer­rable between mam­mals.

The flu spe­cial­ist’s most re­cent re­search was ap­proved by Wis­con­sin’s In­sti­tu­tion­al Biosafety Com­mit­tee. Re­becca Mor­itz, who is tasked with mon­it­or­ing re­search in the state done on “se­lect agents,” said Kawaoka’s work on the H1N1 flu strain would in­form un­der­stand­ing about how the vir­us could mutate in the fu­ture, pos­sibly mak­ing cur­rent vac­cines in­ef­fect­ive.

“This work is not to cre­ate a new strain of in­flu­enza with pan­dem­ic po­ten­tial, but [to] mod­el the im­mune-pres­sure the vir­us is cur­rently fa­cing in our bod­ies to es­cape our de­fenses,” she said.

Kawaoka ac­know­ledged the safety con­cerns about his re­search but said, “There are risks in all re­search. … As for all the re­search on in­flu­enza vir­uses in my labor­at­ory, this work is per­formed by ex­per­i­enced re­search­ers un­der ap­pro­pri­ate con­tain­ment and with full re­view and pri­or ap­prov­al by the [biosafety com­mit­tee].”

What We're Following See More »
TWO MONTHS AFTER REFUSING AT CONVENTION
Cruz to Back Trump
1 days ago
THE LATEST
WHO TO BELIEVE?
Two Polls for Clinton, One for Trump
1 days ago
THE LATEST

With three days until the first debate, the polls are coming fast and furious. The latest round:

  • An Associated Press/Gfk poll of registered voters found very few voters committed, with Clin­ton lead­ing Trump, 37% to 29%, and Gary John­son at 7%.
  • A Mc­Clatchy-Mar­ist poll gave Clin­ton a six-point edge, 45% to 39%, in a four-way bal­lot test. Johnson pulls 10% support, with Jill Stein at 4%.
  • Rasmussen, which has drawn criticism for continually showing Donald Trump doing much better than he does in other polls, is at it again. A new survey gives Trump a five-point lead, 44%-39%.
NO SURPRISE
Trump Eschewing Briefing Materials in Debate Prep
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shun­ning tra­di­tion­al de­bate pre­par­a­tions, but has been watch­ing video of…Clin­ton’s best and worst de­bate mo­ments, look­ing for her vul­ner­ab­il­it­ies.” Trump “has paid only curs­ory at­ten­tion to brief­ing ma­ter­i­als. He has re­fused to use lecterns in mock de­bate ses­sions des­pite the ur­ging of his ad­visers. He prefers spit­balling ideas with his team rather than hon­ing them in­to crisp, two-minute an­swers.”

Source:
TRUMP NO HABLA ESPANOL
Trump Makes No Outreach to Spanish Speakers
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Donald Trump "is on the precipice of becoming the only major-party presidential candidate this century not to reach out to millions of American voters whose dominant, first or just preferred language is Spanish. Trump has not only failed to buy any Spanish-language television or radio ads, he so far has avoided even offering a translation of his website into Spanish, breaking with two decades of bipartisan tradition."

Source:
$1.16 MILLION
Clintons Buy the House Next Door in Chappaqua
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Bill and Hillary Clinton have purchased the home next door to their primary residence in tony Chappaqua, New York, for $1.16 million. "By purchasing the new home, the Clinton's now own the entire cul-de-sac at the end of the road in the leafy New York suburb. The purchase makes it easier for the United States Secret Service to protect the former president and possible future commander in chief."

Source:
×