Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Communities
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Bird Flu Mutation Study Offers Vaccine Clue

Published: Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, April 08, 2013
Bookmark and Share
New findings to develop more effective vaccines against new strains of bird flu.

Scientists have described small genetic changes that enable the H5N1 bird flu virus to replicate more easily in the noses of mammals.

So far there have only been isolated cases of bird flu in humans, and no widespread transmission as the H5N1 virus can't replicate efficiently in the nose.

The new study, using weakened viruses in the lab, supports the conclusions of controversial research published in 2012 which demonstrated that just a few genetic mutations could enable bird flu to spread between ferrets, which are used to model flu infection in humans.

Researchers say the new findings could help to develop more effective vaccines against new strains of bird flu that can spread between humans.

"Knowing why bird flu struggles to replicate in the nose and understanding the genetic mutations that would enable it to happen are vital for monitoring viruses circulating in birds and preparing for an outbreak in humans," said Professor Wendy Barclay, from the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London, who led the study.

"The studies published last year pointed to a mechanism that restricts replication of H5N1 viruses in the nose. We've engineered a different mutation with the same effect into one of the virus proteins and achieved a similar outcome. This suggests that there is a common mechanism by which bird flu could evolve to spread between humans, but that a number of different specific mutations might mediate that."

Bird flu only rarely infects humans because the human nose has different receptors to those of birds and is also more acidic. The Imperial team studied mutations in the gene for haemagglutinin, a protein on the surface of the virus that enables it to get into host cells.

They carried out their experiments in a laboratory strain of flu with the same proteins on its surface as bird flu, but engineered so that it cannot cause serious illness.

The research found that mutations in the H5 haemagglutinin enabled the protein to tolerate higher levels of acidity. Viruses with these mutations and others that enabled them to bind to different receptors were able to replicate more efficiently in ferrets and spread from one animal to another.

The results have important implications for designing vaccines against potential pandemic strains of bird flu. Live attenuated flu vaccines (LAIV) might be used in a pandemic situation because it is possible to manufacture many more doses of this type of vaccine than of the killed virus vaccines used to protect against seasonal flu.

LAIV are based on weakened viruses that don't cause illness, but they still have to replicate in order to elicit a strong immune response. Viruses with modified haemagglutinin proteins induced strong antibody responses in ferrets in this study, suggesting that vaccines with similar modifications might prove more effective than those tested previously.

"We can't predict how bird flu viruses will evolve in the wild, but the more we understand about the kinds of mutations that will enable them to transmit between humans, the better we can prepare for a possible pandemic," said Professor Barclay.

The research was funded by the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust and published in the Journal of General Virology.

Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 5,100+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Leukaemia Cell Movement Gives Clues to Tackling Treatment-Resistant Disease
Researchers at Imperial College London have suggested that the act of moving itself may help the cells to survive, possibly through short-lived interactions with an array of our own cells.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Preventing Alzheimer's in Mice
Researchers have prevented the Alzheimer’s development in mice by using a virus delivery system to transport a specific gene into the brain.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Blood Pressure Drug May Boost Effectiveness of Lung Cancer Treatment
Researchers at Imperial College London have suggested that the blood pressure drug may make a type of lung cancer treatment more effective.
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Feeding Babies Egg and Peanut May Prevent Food Allergy
The new analysis pools all existing data, and suggests introducing egg and peanut at an early age may prevent the development of allergy.
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Dengue Vaccine May Increase Risk of Severe Disease
The world's only licensed vaccine for dengue may worsen subsequent dengue infections if used in areas with low rates of dengue infection.
Friday, September 02, 2016
Breast Milk Sugar Protect Newborns Against Meningitis
Research suggests breat milk sugar can protect against Group B streptococcus, a leading cause of meningitis.
Thursday, September 01, 2016
Breast Milk Sugar May Protect Babies Against Deadly Infection
Researchers from Imperial College London find that a sugar found in some women’s breast milk may protect babies against Group B streptococcus.
Friday, August 26, 2016
MRSA – Just Add Salt
Scientists have discoved a new way to attack Staphylococcus aureus through salt content mechanisms
Friday, August 19, 2016
Flu Vaccine May Reduce Death Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
New research suggests that a new flu vaccine may reduce probability of type 2 diabetes patients being hospitalised with stroke and heart failure.
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Zika Epidemic Likely to End Within Three Years
A team of scientists has predicted that the current Zika epidemic is likely to end within three years because there will be too few people left to infect.
Friday, July 15, 2016
Sound Waves May Hold Potential to Treat Twin Pregnancy Complications
Researchers at Imperial College London have found that the high energy sound waves could treat a potentially deadly complication that affects some twin pregnancies.
Friday, July 15, 2016
Viral hepatitis kills as Many as Malaria, TB or HIV/AIDS
Viral hepatitis is one of the leading killers across the globe, with a death toll that matches AIDS or tuberculosis.
Thursday, July 07, 2016
Supplement May Switch off Cravings for High-Calorie Foods
Researchers have found that inulin-propionate ester supplement curbs cravings for junk food.
Saturday, July 02, 2016
Dengue Virus Exposure May Amplify Zika Infection
Researchers at Imperial College London have found that the previous exposure to the dengue virus may increase the potency of Zika infection.
Friday, June 24, 2016
£14m EU Project To Aid Meningitis Diagnosis and Cut Antibiotic Use
An international team of doctors are aiming to develop a rapid test to allow medics to quickly identify bacterial infection in children.
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Scientific News
Integrated Omics Analysis
Studying multi-omics promises to give a more holistic picture of the organism and its place in its ecosystem, however despite the complexities involved those within the field are optimistic.
Unravelling the Role of Key Genes and DNA Methylation in Blood Cell Malignancies
Researchers from the University of Nebraska Medical Center have demonstrated the role of Dnmt3a in safeguarding normal haematopoiesis.
Salford Lung Study - The First Real World Clinical Trial
In this podcast, we learn about the Salford Lung Study and its potential to revolutionize the way we assess new drugs and treatments around the world.
Point of Care Diagnostics - A Cautious Revolution
Advances in molecular biology, coupled with the miniaturization and improved sensitivity of assays and devices in general, have enabled a new wave of point-of-care (POC) or “bedside” diagnostics.
Mass Spec Technology Drives Innovation Across the Biopharma Workflow
With greater resolving power, analytical speed, and accuracy, new mass spectrometry technology and techniques are infiltrating the biopharmaceuticals workflow.
NIH Study Determines Key Differences between Allergic and Non-Allergic Dust Mite Proteins
Researchers at NIH have uncovered factors that lead to the development of dust mite allergy and assist in the design of better allergy therapies.
New Mechanism of Plant RNA Degradation Identified
Researchers have identified a novel mechanism by which RNA is degraded.
Achieving “Green” Desalination
Workshop explores ways to reduce or eliminate the carbon footprint of seawater desalination plants.
NIH Contributes to Global Effort to Prevent and Manage Lung Diseases
The large scale trial will measure health benefits of clean cookstoves.
Study Finds Key Regulator in Pulmonary Fibrosis
Researchers identify an enzyme that could open the way to therpies for chronic fatal lung disease.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,100+ scientific videos