Influenza genomes sequenced

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted March 12, 2007

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The Influenza Genome Sequencing Project has completed the sequencing of more than 2,000 human and avian influenza viruses taken from samples around the world. The data have been made available in a public database.

"This information will help scientists understand how influenza viruses evolve and spread, and it will aid in the development of new flu vaccines, therapies and diagnostics," said National Institutes of Health Director Elias A. Zerhouni, MD.

The project, launched in 2004, is funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the NIH.

Seasonal flu kills 36,000 people a year in the U.S. and causes 200,000 hospitalizations. Its worldwide toll is estimated at 250,000 to a half a million deaths a year. An even greater concern is the potential for a pandemic flu caused by the possible emergence of a new lethal virus that is easily transmitted from person to person.

A few years ago, there was limited genetic information on the influenza viruses, and that gap is now filling rapidly, said Maria Y. Giovanni, PhD, who oversees the NIAID's Microbial Sequencing Centers.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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