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Tamiflu-resistant influenza: parsing the genome for the culprits

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It doesn’t take long for the flu virus to outsmart Tamiflu. EPFL scientists have developed a tool that reveals the mutations that make the virus resistant, and they have identified new mutations that may render ineffective one of the few treatments currently available on the market.

Tamiflu is one of the few available treatments for those who come down with the flu. But the virus quickly develops resistance; multiplying at a rate of several generations a day, these tiny pathogens rapidly accumulate genetic mutations. Because of this, they have a good chance of developing counterattacks to the antiviral. How can these infinitesimal variations be identified within the immensity of the virus’ genetic code? EPFL researchers have created a computer tool that can shed light on the flu virus’ formidable adaptability. They were able to find mutations that conferred resistance that had up to this point not yet been identified. Their software has been made freely available to researchers everywhere, and is the subject of an article published in the journal PLOS Genetics.

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