Researchers Predicts the Evolution of Flu Virus

Flu-VirusResearchers from the University of Pennsylvania have started to crack the code to predict which strain of flu will be prevalent in a given year. The findings of the research will be published in the open-access journal PLoS Genetics on February 17.

Joshua Plotkin, one of the researchers from the University of Pennsylvania believes that this study of 40 years of flu genomes offers a new way of looking at mutations. He added that tracking single mutations in a vacuum is not always enough to understand how the flu virus evolves.

He said that “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”.

The study of the virus has revealed that mutation generally affects the surface proteins that determine whether the virus can enter and infect human cells. The study would be helpful in predict what mutations are likely to happen in the near future.

Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide die due to seasonal flu every year. Flu vaccine production is labour intensive and is time consuming also. The study would be helpful for the public health groups like the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.