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 »
HE WAS 83
Charles Manson Dead
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

Manson "died Sunday of natural causes, according to the California Department of Corrections. He was 83. ...Manson served nine life terms in California prisons and was denied parole 12 times."

Source:
AT ISSUE: COMEY FIRING, SESSIONS’S RECUSAL
Mueller Seeks Documents from DOJ
13 hours ago
THE LATEST

Special counsel Robert Mueller "is now demanding documents from the department overseeing his investigation." A source tells ABC News that "Mueller's investigators are keen to obtain emails related to the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the earlier decision of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the entire matter."

Source:
MULVANEY SAYS PROVISION ISN’T A DEALBREAKER
Trump May Be OK with Dropping Mandate Repeal
14 hours ago
THE LATEST

"President Donald Trump would not insist on including repeal of an Obama-era health insurance mandate in a bill intended to enact the biggest overhaul of the tax code since the 1980s, a senior White House aide said on Sunday. The version of tax legislation put forward by Senate Republican leaders would remove a requirement in former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law that taxes Americans who decline to buy health insurance."

Source:
FRANKEN JUST THE BEGINNING?
Media Devoting More Resources to Lawmakers’ Sexual Misconduct
15 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Members of Congress with histories of mistreating women should be extremely nervous. Major outlets, including CNN, are dedicating substantial newsroom resources to investigating sexual harassment allegations against numerous lawmakers. A Republican source told me he's gotten calls from well-known D.C. reporters who are gathering stories about sleazy members."

Source:
STARTS LEGAL FUND FOR WH STAFF
Trump to Begin Covering His Own Legal Bills
2 days ago
THE DETAILS
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login