Researchers map 209 flu virus genomes

first_imgOct 6, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – Influenza researchers marked a milestone yesterday by publishing a report on the complete genetic mapping of 209 samples of human flu viruses, vastly increasing the supply of genetic data on flu. The report, published in Nature, is one of the first fruits of the Influenza Genome Sequencing Project, which aims to trace the genetic blueprints of thousands of flu viruses. The project, announced in November 2004, is a joint effort of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the Wadsworth Center of the New York State Department of Health in Albany, and The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) in Rockville, Md. The flu genome sequencing project is now being expanded to include avian flu, in an effort to learn how often avian strains cross into humans, the article says. The H5N1 avian strain now circulating in Asia has already infected more than 115 humans. Experts fear it could soon gain the ability to spread readily from person to person, thereby launching a pandemic. “These new data give us the most comprehensive picture to date of how influenza viruses evolve and are transmitted throughout human populations,” NIAID Director Anthony Fauci, MD, said in a news release. He said the new information could lead to better vaccines, drugs, and diagnostic tools for flu. “As a result of this project, the number of complete human H3N2 influenza virus genomes in GenBank [a public online database] has already grown from just seven genomes to over 200,” the article says. The samples analyzed include 207 H3N2 viruses and two H1N2 isolates, which were gathered in New York state over five flu seasons, from 1998-99 through 2003-04. “The sequenced strains were not preselected because of their virulence or unusual characteristics, giving researchers an unbiased view of flu virus evolution as it moved through a varied human population,” the NIAID statement said. See also: They detected a number of mutations (changes in particular amino acids) that occurred during the study period, and also found three cases in which strains traded whole gene segments (reassortments). In July some members of the team reported in detail on the most significant of these events, in which two groups, or clades, of H3N2 viruses acquired the hemagglutinin gene from a third H3N2 group. That gave rise to the Fujian strain of flu, which predominated in the 2003-04 flu season. The vaccine that year was not well matched to the Fujian strain and had reduced effectiveness. The viruses were surprisingly varied. “Even within a geographically constrained set of isolates, we have found surprising genetic diversity, indicating that the reservoir of influenza A strains in the human population—and the concomitant potential for segment exchange between strains—may be greater than was previously suspected,” the researchers write. By carefully cataloging mutations and reassortments, “we can begin to get the first real picture of the rate of mutational events underlying influenza A virus evolution,” the researchers write. The research was done by a large team, with Elodie Ghedin of TIGR listed as the first author. They published their report the same day other teams reported on the re-creation of the deadly 1918 pandemic flu virus and a finding that the 1918 virus closely resembled avian flu viruses. Ghedin E, Sengamalay NA, Shumway M, et al. Large-scale sequencing of human influenza reveals the dynamic nature of viral genome evolution. Nature 2005 Oct 5 (advance online publication) [Full text] Ghedin and colleagues say that until now, scientists had fully mapped and published the genomes of only a few strains of human flu viruses. Most of the published data pertain to short fragments of the genes for the virus’s two key surface proteins, hemagglutinin and neuraminidase. Jul 26, 2005, CIDRAP News story “Flu viruses can evolve in unsuspected ways, study says”last_img read more

Commonwealth leaders release Eminent Persons Group report

first_img Sharing is caring! Share 22 Views   no discussions CHOGM 2011 Family photo: Queen and leaders. Annaliese McDonough/Commonwealth SecretariatPERTH, Australia — On Sunday, Commonwealth leaders released the report of the Eminent Persons Group that had given rise to some controversy earlier this month over the decision not to make the report public in advance of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth, Australia. In welcoming the report of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG), and thanking its members for their outstanding work, heads of government:– Agreed that there should be a “Charter of the Commonwealth”, as proposed by the EPG, embodying the principles contained in previous declarations, drawn together in a single, consolidated document that is not legally binding;– Tasked the Secretary-General and the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) to further evaluate relevant options relating to the EPG’s proposal for the Commissioner for Democracy, the Rule of Law and Human Rights and to report back to Foreign Ministers at their September 2012 meeting in New York;– Noted that the EPG’s recommendations relating to CMAG were consistent with the CMAG reforms adopted at this Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting;– Adopted without reservation a further 30 recommendations;– Adopted, subject to consideration of financial implications, 12 further recommendations;– Asked a Task Force of Ministers to provide more detailed advice on 43 other recommendations to Foreign Ministers at their September 2012 meeting in New York, as a basis for further decision by Heads; and– Deemed, for a variety of reasons, 11 of the recommendations inappropriate for adoption.In opening the three-day CHOGM on Friday, Head of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II, made an unusually pointed reference to the report by the EPG, which recommended the creation of a Commonwealth commissioner for democracy, the rule of law and human rights.”I wish heads of government well in agreeing further reforms that respond boldly to the aspirations of today and that keep the Commonwealth fresh and fit for tomorrow,” the Queen said. ”We should not forget that this is an association not only of governments but also of peoples.”The EPG was established by Commonwealth leaders in 2009 to look at how the Commonwealth might be updated and made more relevant.By Caribbean News Now contributor Sharecenter_img NewsRegional Commonwealth leaders release Eminent Persons Group report by: – October 31, 2011 Tweet Sharelast_img read more