Experts look for clues in 1918 pandemic virus family tree

first_imgJun 29, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – To outside observers, the novel H1N1 virus spreading quickly to every corner of the globe must seem like it came out of nowhere, but the organism is a fourth generation of the 1918 pandemic virus and comes from an H1N1 family tree that is colorful and complex, according to two historical reviews that appear today in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).Understanding the history of swine influenza viruses, particularly their contribution to the 1918 pandemic virus, underscores the need to better comprehend zoonotic viruses as well as the dynamics of human pandemic viruses that can arise from them, the authors report in an early online NEJM edition.The world is still in a “pandemic era” that began in 1918, wrote three experts from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), senior investigator David Morens, MD, medical epidemiologist Jeffery Taubenberger, MD, PhD, and NIAID director Anthony Fauci, MD.The 1918 virus has used a “bag of evolutionary tricks” to survive in humans and pigs and to launch other novel viruses, they wrote. “The 2009 H1N1 pandemic virus represents yet another genetic product in the still-growing family tree of this remarkable 1918 virus.”The novel H1N1 virus’ complex evolutionary history involved genetic mixing within human viruses and between avian- and swine-adapted viruses, gene segment evolution in multiple species, and evolution from the selection pressure of herd immunity in populations at different times, the group wrote, adding. “The fact that this novel H1N1 influenza A virus has become a pandemic virus expands the previous definition of the term,”Though any new virus is unpredictable, Fauci and his colleagues wrote that in this pandemic era, severity appears to be decreasing over time, with an evolutionary pattern that appears to favor transmissibility over pathogenicity.Two researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, in a review article on the emergence of H1N1 viruses, wrote that viral adaptation to a new host species is complex, but the 1918 influenza A H1N1 virus was unusual because it emerged from a bird source in pigs and humans at the same time. In contrast, researchers have said the new H1N1 virus probably emerged from swine to humans. The authors are Shanta Zimmer, MD, from the medical school, and Donald Burke, MD, from the graduate school of public health.Previous research suggests that antibody specificity against the 1918 human influenza virus diverged quickly from swine influenza viruses, and genetic differences in hemagglutinin (HA) continue to show the same type of rapid divergence between human and swine viruses, they wrote.Researchers still don’t know why H1N1 retreated in 1957 for the next 20 years, though likely factors include high levels of existing homologous immunity plus the sudden appearance of heterologous immunity from a new H2N2 strain, Zimmer and Burke wrote.Cross-species transfers of swine influenza H1N1 cropped up a few times over the next two decades, and human H1N1 didn’t surface again until 1977, presumably because of a laboratory accident in the former Soviet Union. This event marked a first in interpandemic history: the cocirculation of two influenza A viruses.The authors wrote that it’s difficult to predict how well the pandemic strain will compete against the seasonal H1N1 virus. Both viruses share three gene segments with their remote 1918 descendant: nucleocapsid, nonstructural, and HA. They pointed out that studies of B-cell memory response in 1918 pandemic survivors showed that the neutralizing body against HA was specific and long-lasting.Cell-mediated immunity may also affect competition between the two viruses, the authors wrote. Though it’s not clear if cytotoxic T lymphocytes clinically protect humans, they have been shown to reduce viral shedding, even in the absence of antibodies against HA and neuraminidase.”Cytotoxic T lymphocytes that are generated by seasonal influenza viruses against conserved epitopes might provide heterotypic immune responses that could dampen transmission, even in the absence of measurable antibody protection,” Zimmer and Burke wrote.Morens DM, Taubenberger JK, Fauci AS. The persistent legacy of the 1918 influenza virus. N Engl J Med 2009 Jul 16;361(3):225-29 [Full text]Zimmer SM, Burke DS. Historical perspective—emergence of influenza A (H1N1) viruses. N Engl J Med 2009 Jul 16;361(3):279-85 [Full text]last_img read more

Xi speaks with Jokowi over phone, says China will ‘win’ battle against coronavirus

first_imgXi also conveyed his appreciation for the trust and understanding extended by his Indonesian colleagues, saying that his recent conversation with Jokowi was a reflection of the robust bilateral relationship between China and Indonesia as comprehensive strategic partners.Jokowi reportedly expressed his sympathies to China on behalf of Indonesia during the phone call.COVID-19, linked to a wet market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has infected more than 45,000 people since it was first reported early this year with a death toll of more than 1,100 people as of Wednesday.The Indonesian government has imposed a travel ban to and from mainland China since Feb. 5 as well as temporary halt in live animal imports from the country in an effort to prevent the deadly virus from spreading to the archipelago .However, Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia Xiao Qian objected to the travel ban as he claimed such a move would likely have a negative impact on the global economy.“In this situation, we need to be calm. Don’t overreact and cause a negative impact on investment and the economy,” he told reporters last week.As of Wednesday, there have been no confirmed COVID-19 cases in Indonesia.(rfa)Topics : Chinese President Xi Jinping told  President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo that the Chinese government was confident it would “win” the battle against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in a phone call on Tuesday night.As reported by Xinhua news agency, Xi said containing the outbreak was the government’s top priority, as evidenced by its commitment to implementing “the most rigorous and thorough prevention and control measures”. #BREAKING: Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks over phone with his Indonesian counterpart Joko Widodo, expressing confidence in a full victory in the fight against the novel #coronavirus pneumonia epidemic and achieving goals and tasks of economic and social development pic.twitter.com/QUSdNRTPnZ— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) February 11, 2020He went on to say that China would continue to bolster its cooperation on the mitigation of the deadly viral outbreak with Indonesia and other countries to ensure public health safety.last_img read more

Gatlin looks forward to final showdown with Bolt

first_imgAMERICAN sprint star Justin Gatlin admits he is looking forward to one last showdown with world’s fastest man Usain Bolt at this summer’s London World Championships.The meet is expected to be the last major championship of the decorated 30-year-old Bolt, who has announced that he will be retiring from the sport at the end of this season.The 35-year-old Gatlin, who has been Bolt’s closest rival for the last several seasons, ensured that he is on course to at least remain a part of the spectacle following a 100m win at United States Trials on Saturday.The sprinter clocked 9.95 seconds to claim the top spot, in the process getting the better of young collegiate star Christian Coleman (9.98) the pre-race favourite for many heading into the final.Now on the horizon for Gatlin, who finished second behind Bolt at the 2013 and 2015 Worlds and 2016 Olympics, is another chance to test the mettle of the Jamaican.“It’s going to be a changing of an era,” Gatlin told Reuters. “We are going to be looking at a person who came along and made his mark and who has not only excited the crowds but he has made history over and over.”“I always wanted to battle with the guys with the records,” the American said.“When I came back into the sport, my goal was to be…I said to myself ‘I just want to be shoulder to shoulder with him’,” Gatlin told reporters at the U.S. nationals/world trials.“It was just total respect for how fast he is, the competition he brings.”last_img read more