Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Nature: Yoshihiro Kawaoka Talks About His H5N1 Research

 

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BSL-4 Lab Worker - Photo Credit –USAMRIID

 

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Although two scientists, working independently and a half-a-world-apart have recently created a more transmissible version of the H5N1 virus, it has been the work of Ron Fouchier at Erasmus University that has garnered the most press.

 

The reason is pretty simple.

 

Fouchier announced his findings at a scientific conference late last summer (see Katherine Harmon’s Sci-Am article and in a follow up to this story in New Scientist: Five Easy Mutations), while Yoshihiro Kawaoka has – until now - refrained from discussing his work publicly.

 

Today in a Nature commentary, flu virologist Yoshihiro Kawaoka breaks his silence and talks about his research into the H5N1 virus, and why such research should continue.

 

H5N1: Flu transmission work is urgent

Nature (2012)
doi:10.1038/nature10884 Published online
25 January 2012

Yoshihiro Kawaoka explains that research on transmissible avian flu viruses needs to continue if pandemics are to be prevented.

 

Taking a different approach than that used by Fouchier, Kawaoka created a reassortant virus combining H5N1 and the 2009 H1N1 virus, which while transmissible between ferrets, was no more pathogenic than regular flu.

 

As you might expect, Helen Branswell is already all over this story, and you can find her take on it at:

 

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Researcher at heart of bird flu studies controversy reveals details of his findings

By: Helen Branswell, The Canadian Press

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