Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cyber Exploring The 'Ecosystems' Of Influenzas

Date:
October 23, 2009
Source:
Duke University
Summary:
Predicting the infection patterns of influenzas requires tracking both the ecology and the evolution of the fast-morphing viruses that cause them, said a researcher who enlists computers to model such changes.

Predicting the infection patterns of influenzas requires tracking both the ecology and the evolution of the fast-morphing viruses that cause them, said a Duke University researcher who enlists computers to model such changes.

Related Articles


A single mutation can put a flu virus on a new-enough path to re-infect people who had developed immunity to its previous form, said Katia Koelle, a Duke assistant professor of biology.

For example, a commonplace Influenza A virus known as H3N2 emerged in 1968. But since then fully one-third of the component amino acids in its hemagglutinin protein -- the "H" in H3N2 -- have changed.

"That's a huge amount of evolution," Koelle said. "If there's a new escape mutant that can actually so change the protein's configuration that our antibodies can't recognize the virus anymore, that means it's going to have a huge advantage and infect more of us.

"How much of an advantage the new virus strain has will depend on how many people have gotten infected in the past. So the epidemiological dynamics will shape the evolutionary dynamics. And vice versa, the evolutionary dynamics will shape the epidemiological dynamics because mutations of the virus will allow people to become re-infected."

Koelle's group at Duke has developed a two-tiered model to simulate that interplay in such viruses, allowing scientists to "quantitatively reproduce the patterns we observe," she said.

Koelle is scheduled to describe her work on Aug. 5, during a symposium at the 2009 Ecological Society of America annual meeting in Albuquerque.

"We're interested in having a flexible and simple model that would not only be able to reproduce the dynamics of H3N2 but also help us understand how flu evolves differently in different hosts," Koelle added. For example, H3N2 (not to be confused with the H1N1 "swine flu" virus) also has been circulating in pigs, with the virus showing distinctly different evolutionary patterns in these hosts.

One of her group's models is focusing on that difference, which she suspects is linked to man's and animals widely disparate lifespans -- about 80 years for humans versus under 2 for farm-raised hogs.

"The virus doesn't have to evolve rapidly to avoid being wiped out by the pigs' immunity to it," she said. "That's because there are always many more susceptible new hosts coming into the pig population."

Another challenge is Influenza B, a comparatively mild virus that infects mostly children but is complicated by the fact that two genetically distinct strain lineages circulate in human populations. During any given flu season, only one B sequence predominates, presenting a challenge for vaccine makers who must choose between them.

"They have to make an educated guess about which influenza B lineage is going to be the main one that season," Koelle said. "Sometimes there is a big B outbreak when it turns out to be the one not included in the vaccine."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Duke University. "Cyber Exploring The 'Ecosystems' Of Influenzas." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090805150524.htm>.
Duke University. (2009, October 23). Cyber Exploring The 'Ecosystems' Of Influenzas. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090805150524.htm
Duke University. "Cyber Exploring The 'Ecosystems' Of Influenzas." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090805150524.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dogs Bring on So Many Different Emotions in Their Human Best Friends

Dogs Bring on So Many Different Emotions in Their Human Best Friends

RightThisMinute (Jan. 28, 2015) From new-puppy happy tears to helpful-grocery-carrying-dog laughter, our four-legged best friends can make us feel the entire spectrum of emotions. Video provided by RightThisMinute
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Say Earliest Snakes Lived Alongside The Dinosaurs

Scientists Say Earliest Snakes Lived Alongside The Dinosaurs

Newsy (Jan. 28, 2015) Wrongly categorized as lizard fossils, snake fossils now show the reptile could have developed earlier than we thought — 70 million years earlier. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Malnutrition on the Rise as Violence Flares in C. Africa

Malnutrition on the Rise as Violence Flares in C. Africa

AFP (Jan. 28, 2015) Violence can flare up at any moment in Bambari with only a bridge separating Muslims and Christians. Malnutrition is on the rise and lack of water means simple cooking fires threaten to destroy makeshift camps where people are living. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Poultry Culled in Taiwan to Thwart Bird Flu

Poultry Culled in Taiwan to Thwart Bird Flu

Reuters - News Video Online (Jan. 28, 2015) Taiwan culls over a million poultry in efforts to halt various strains of avian flu. Julie Noce reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins