New technique for detecting ability of flu viruses to infect humans



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WHAT:
NIH-funded scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have developed a technique for detecting changes in flu viruses that would precede a virus's ability to infect humans and cause epidemics. The new, publicly available tool, called a glycan array, could be used to monitor the emergence of flu strains that efficiently infect humans, including those of avian origin. The technology was developed by the Consortium for Functional Glycomics, a "glue grant" project sponsored by NIH's National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases also funded the research.

WHY and WHEN:
"Glycoarray Analysis of the Hemagglutinins from Modern and Pandemic Influenza Viruses Reveals Different Receptor Specificities" by Ian Wilson, D.Phil., James Paulson, Ph.D., and their coworkers is scheduled to be published in the February 3, 2006 issue of the Journal of Molecular Biology. The article appeared online on November 18, 2005.

WHO:
Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., Director, National Institute of General Medical Sciences, is available to comment on the new technique and how it can be used to detect potentially dangerous flu strains. Berg can also discuss the NIGMS "glue grant" program, which brings together teams of scientists with diverse expertise to tackle complex problems that are of central importance to biomedical science.

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CONTACT:
To schedule interviews, contact the NIGMS Office of Communications and Public Liaison at 301-496-7301.

MORE INFORMATION:
For more information about the Consortium for Functional Glycomics glue grant, see http://www.functionalglycomics.org/static/consortium/. For general information on glue grants, go to http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Initiatives/Collaborative/GlueGrants/. NIGMS (http://www.nigms.nih.gov), a component of the National Institutes of Health, supports basic biomedical research that is the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH)--The Nation's Medical Research Agency--includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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