Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Influenza Genome Sequencing Project

Along the lines of the Human Genome Project, and related to our previous story about a potentially imminent pandemic of Influenza, The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced yesterday their Influenza Genome Project.

Considering that Influenza (Type A) genome is a measly 13.6 kb of single stranded RNA (divided in 8 molecules), compared to the 3 billions basepair for the Human genome, it seems like no big deal; a quick search in Entrez reveal that we already have the sequence for 14 Influenza genomes. With this project, the researchers intend to sequence thousands of strains of Influenza (Avian and human viruses). They collaborate with institutions holding collections of viruses accumulated during several decades; among them, the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, where the research will take place. With this project, they hope to improve our knowledge of the virus. Multiple alignment studies correlated with infectious potential may help to understand which mutations are more dangerous than others. More importantly, the database will be a great tool for vaccine development.

Story coverage on MedicalNewsToday

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