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Studies Showing How Bird Flu Viruses Could Adapt to Humans Offer Surveillance and Vaccine Strategies

Bird flu viruses are potentially highly lethal and pose a global threat, but relatively little is known about why certain strains spread more easily to humans than others. Two studies published by Cell Press June 6th in the journal Cell identify mutations that increase the infectivity of H5N1 and H7N9 viruses through improved binding to receptors in the human respiratory tract. The findings offer much-needed strategies for monitoring the emergence of dangerous bird flu strains capable of infecting humans and for developing more effective vaccines.

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