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H1N1 Flu Virus Used New Biochemical Trick To Cause Pandemic

Posted Aug 07 2010 8:16am

The influenza virus, scientists well know, is a crafty, shape-shifting organism, constantly changing form to evade host immune systems and jump from one species, like birds, to another, mammals.

Now, in a report in the current (Aug. 5, 2010) Public Library of Science Pathogens, an international team of scientists shows that the recent pandemic-causing H1N1 flu virus used a new biochemical trick to spread efficiently in humans.

The new work expands the repertoire of known factors flu viruses can use to hijack a host cell and amplify infection in mammals, including humans. The discovery not only yields new insight into the subtle biology of flu, but also reveals another genetic marker public health officials can use to presage pandemics.

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