Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Research predicts future evolution of flu viruses

Date:
February 19, 2011
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
New research is beginning to crack the code of which strain of flu will be prevalent in a given year, with major implications for global public health preparedness.

New research from the University of Pennsylvania is beginning to crack the code of which strain of flu will be prevalent in a given year, with major implications for global public health preparedness.

Related Articles


The findings will be published on Feb. 17 in the open-access journal PLoS Genetics.

Joshua Plotkin and Sergey Kryazhimskiy, both at the University of Pennsylvania, conducted the research with colleagues at McMaster University and the Institute for Information Transmission Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Plotkin believes that his group's computational study of 40 years of flu genomes offers a new way of looking at mutations: by cataloging pairs of genetic changes that have occurred in rapid succession, observing that a mutation in one half of the pair can act as an early warning sign of a mutation about to occur in the other.

Tracking single mutations in a vacuum is not always enough to understand how the flu virus evolves. "Sometimes a mutation is functional or adaptive only if it's in the context of a certain genetic background -- that is, if the protein already has some other mutation," Plotkin said. The influence such combinations have on an organization's adaptive fitness is known as epistasis.

"If you see a mutation occur in Site A and then very soon after you see a mutation in Site B, and this pattern happens repeatedly, then you have some evidence that A and B influence fitness epistatically," Plotkin said. "The first mutation might be useless on its own, but it might be a prerequisite for the second mutation to be useful. The first mutation is like giving you a nail, and the second one is like giving you a hammer."

Because the studied mutations generally affect the surface proteins that determine whether the virus can enter and infect human cells, being able to predict what mutations are likely to happen in the near future has lifesaving applications. Tens of thousands of Americans, and hundreds of thousands worldwide, die of seasonal flu complications every year. Flu vaccine production is labor intensive and time consuming; to have enough supplies ready for the flu season, public health groups like the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization must make an educated guess as to which strain is likely to be the most active several months in advance. Observing the leading site of an epistatic pair could give them a head start.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kryazhimskiy S, Dushoff J, Bazykin GA, Plotkin JB. Prevalence of Epistasis in the Evolution of Influenza A Surface Proteins. PLoS Genetics, 2011; 7 (2): e1001301 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1001301

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Research predicts future evolution of flu viruses." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110217171336.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2011, February 19). Research predicts future evolution of flu viruses. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110217171336.htm
Public Library of Science. "Research predicts future evolution of flu viruses." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110217171336.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Fauci Says Ebola Risk in US "essentially Zero"

Fauci Says Ebola Risk in US "essentially Zero"

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) NIAID Director Anthony Fauci said the risk of Ebola becoming an epidemic in the U.S. is essentially zero Thursday at the Washington Ideas Forum. He also said an Ebola vaccine will be tested in West Africa in the next few months. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nurse Defies Ebola Quarantine With Bike Ride

Nurse Defies Ebola Quarantine With Bike Ride

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) A nurse who vowed to defy Maine's voluntary quarantine for health care workers who treated Ebola patients followed through on her promise Thursday, leaving her home for an hour-long bike ride. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pot-Infused Edibles Raise Concerns in Colorado

Pot-Infused Edibles Raise Concerns in Colorado

AFP (Oct. 30, 2014) Colorado may have legalized marijuana for recreational use, but the debate around the decision still continues, with a recent - failed - attempt to ban cannabis-infused edibles. Duration: 01:53 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
British Navy Ship Arrives in Sierra Leone With Ebola Aid

British Navy Ship Arrives in Sierra Leone With Ebola Aid

AFP (Oct. 30, 2014) The British ship RFA ARGUS arrived in Sierra Leone to deliver supplies and equipment to help the fight against Ebola. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
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


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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