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Hundreds of Leads Generated in Fight Against H1N1 Pandemic

Scientists have generated hundreds of new leads in the fight against the H1N1 flu pandemic, according to two new studies published online December 17th in the journal Cell. Both research teams took comprehensive approaches to understanding the interaction of H1N1 strains with human cells, yielding results that point toward new targets for therapy and perhaps also new tools to speed vaccine production, the researchers say.

One study took a "multilayered" approach to understand the physical interactions between the virus and human host cell as well as changes in the host as it is manipulated by and responds to viral infection. Aviv Regev and Nir Hacohen of The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard said their goal wasn't to drill down into any specific interaction; rather their findings provide the research community a global "roadmap" -a bird's eye view of the human-virus interaction -- that can now help guide future studies.

"Navigating with a map is very different than without it," Regev said. "Without a map, you might explore a small patch and stay very close to that. There might be a protein you know something about and you'll look around there. With a global map, you may find uncharted territory. It's like discovering America. You still have a lot to learn, but at least you know it's there."

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