XML Feed for RxPG News   Add RxPG News Headlines to My Yahoo!   Javascript Syndication for RxPG News

Research Health World General
 
  Home
 
   Health
 Aging
 Asian Health
 Events
 Fitness
 Food & Nutrition
 Happiness
 Men's Health
 Mental Health
 Occupational Health
 Parenting
 Public Health
 Sleep Hygiene
 Women's Health
 
   Healthcare
 Africa
 Australia
 Canada Healthcare
 China Healthcare
 India Healthcare
 New Zealand
 South Africa
 UK
 USA
 World Healthcare
 
   Latest Research
 Aging
 Alternative Medicine
 Anaethesia
 Biochemistry
 Biotechnology
 Cancer
 Cardiology
 Clinical Trials
 Cytology
 Dental
 Dermatology
 Embryology
 Endocrinology
 ENT
 Environment
 Epidemiology
 Gastroenterology
 Genetics
 Gynaecology
 Haematology
 Immunology
 Infectious Diseases
 Medicine
 Metabolism
 Microbiology
 Musculoskeletal
 Nephrology
 Neurosciences
 Obstetrics
 Ophthalmology
 Orthopedics
 Paediatrics
 Pathology
 Pharmacology
 Physiology
 Physiotherapy
 Psychiatry
 Radiology
 Rheumatology
 Sports Medicine
 Surgery
 Toxicology
 Urology
 
   Medical News
 Awards & Prizes
 Epidemics
  Avian Influenza
  Cholera
  Hemorrhagic Fevers
  Poliomyelitis
 Launch
 Opinion
 Professionals
 
   Special Topics
 Ethics
 Euthanasia
 Evolution
 Feature
 Odd Medical News
 Climate
Search

Last Updated: Nov 18, 2006 - 1:55:25 PM

Avian Influenza Channel
subscribe to Avian Influenza newsletter

Medical News : Epidemics : Avian Influenza

   DISCUSS   |   EMAIL   |   PRINT
Scientists aim to thwart use of flu as bioweapon
Jun 22, 2006 - 5:15:00 AM, Reviewed by: Dr. Priya Saxena

"Flu viruses are deadly witness the 1918 Spanish flu which killed millions of people and with modification, they can be made even more deadly,"

 
Flu is already a big killer, responsible for more than 35,000 deaths in the United States alone each year. And wild birds infected with the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu are gradually broadening the scope of that disease. This week in Rochester, scientists are discussing ways to better understand the flu and also how to prevent the possibility that terrorists could somehow modify flu as a bioweapon to make it even more lethal than it is already.

Among the highlights of this week's two-day symposium, hosted by the University of Rochester Center for Biodefense Immune Modeling, is a lecture by Nobel Prize winner Peter Doherty, Ph.D., an expert on how flu spurs the immune system to defend itself against the infection. Doherty's technical talk on the roles of specific types of T-cells in influenza will be at 1:30 p.m. Friday, June 23, at the Rochester Marriott Airport Hotel on West Ridge Road. The lecture is free and open to the public.

During the symposium Thursday and Friday, University of Rochester experts in mathematics, statistics, immunology, and infectious diseases will join with colleagues from around the nation to discuss exactly how flu invades the body, how the body responds, and how mathematicians, statisticians, and computer scientists are working to help understand the pathogenesis of flu infection. The group will also talk about the potential of flu to be intentionally modified for use as a lethal weapon more deadly than bird flu, and ways to prevent that from happening.

"Flu viruses are deadly witness the 1918 Spanish flu which killed millions of people and with modification, they can be made even more deadly," said Hulin Wu, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology and director of the modeling center. Wu's colleague, Martin Zand, M.D., Ph.D., co-director of the center, added that "We don't know whether flu will be weaponized; it's crucial to ask the question and to be prepared."

The focus of Wu's center, funded by the National Institutes of Health, is the mathematical modeling of infectious diseases. When the flu virus infects the body, for instance, a cascade of complex events occur to fight the virus as it commandeers cells and begins churning out viral particles that attack the body. The immune system falls back on an array of cells, especially antibody-producing B-cells and flu-killing T cells, to fight back. Understanding just how that occurs, and simulating that with computers, is the goal of the center.

Wu points to the improved treatment of HIV as an area where such an approach has already yielded enormous benefit to patients. Once considered a death sentence, HIV infection is now more commonly viewed as a chronic infection thanks largely to improved treatment. Much of the improvement is due to early mathematical models that helped scientists and physicians understand and target the disease more effectively.

"How flu infects the body and how the body responds to a flu infection is not understood completely," said Wu. "Mathematical models will help guide flu experts to ask the right questions, so that we understand it more thoroughly than we do today. Understanding exactly what is happening should help scientists evaluate how the virus will respond to drugs designed to treat an infection."

Since flu is already a killer, the discussions will have an immediate application among scientists looking for ways to stop or better treat "natural" flu. The work also helps scientists like John Treanor, M.D., and David Topham, Ph.D., who are designing and testing new vaccines designed to prevent all types of flu, including bird flu. The University is recognized internationally as a leader in the testing of bird-flu vaccines.

"For many years people did not recognize the importance of flu research," said Topham, associate professor of Microbiology and Immunology and a scientist in the David H. Smith Center for Vaccine Biology and Immunology. "Flu research was seen as humdrum and routine, and there was no driving force to do that research. It just sort of blended into the background. People assumed that since there is a vaccine, it wasn't a disease of interest any more.

"But with bird flu on the horizon and the vaccine shortages that have occurred in recent years, it's become a hotbed of research interest. Besides, flu is responsible for 35,000 deaths and 200,000 hospitalizations in the United States alone. It's a serious health problem," Topham added.
 

- University of Rochester Center for Biodefense Immune Modeling
 

www.urmc.rochester.edu

 
Subscribe to Avian Influenza Newsletter
E-mail Address:

 



Related Avian Influenza News
Promising Flu Vaccine from Insects
Bird flu claims eighth victim in Egypt
Seoul reports second bird-flu outbreak in two weeks
Are Flu Vaccines Worth the Effort?
Lessons from SARS may help prepare for bird flu
Incomplete vaccination could worsen the spread of avian flu
Scientists aim to thwart use of flu as bioweapon
Pakistani poultry industry demands 10-year tax holiday
Pandemic prevention plan approved for Asia Pacific
H5N1 threat puts human flu back in spotlight


For any corrections of factual information, to contact the editors or to send any medical news or health news press releases, use feedback form

Top of Page

 

© Copyright 2004 onwards by RxPG Medical Solutions Private Limited
Contact Us