Database maintains information on sequences of flu virus strains

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Oct. 24, 2005

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More than 200 distinct strains of human influenza virus have been sequenced by researchers and made available on a publicly accessible database.

The information is expected to help scientists better understand how flu viruses evolve, spread and cause disease.

The data already have enabled scientists to determine why the 2003-04 flu vaccine did not fully protect individuals against the flu.

"This information could help us make more effective vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics against a disease that claims some 36,000 American lives each year," said Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, which sponsored the project along with several other groups.

This was the first large-scale effort to sequence flu strains drawn at random from a geographically limited region. Most strains came from samples submitted over five years to the New York State Dept. of Health. Although the viruses were drawn from a relatively small area, the researchers discovered a surprisingly large degree of genetic diversity in the sequences.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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