Researchers study avian flu markers
NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Sept. 17, 2007
Scientists have identified specific amino acids that distinguish influenza viruses found in birds from those that infect humans. These differences may be useful in tracking changes in the H5N1 avian flu virus that may make it more of a threat to humans. The findings were published online July 25 in the Journal of Virology.
"Influenza mutates rapidly, so that any marker that is not the same in bird flu but remains stable in human flu is likely to be important," said David Finkelstein, PhD, research associate at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
He and his colleagues cautioned that there is no proof yet that the human markers in H5N1 and other avian influenza viruses directly contribute to the ability of these viruses to cause pandemics among humans, nor is there evidence that H5N1 is more adapted to humans today than it was in the past.
Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2007/09/17/hlbf0917.htm.