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Swine flu mutation fears may be premature

A mutation found in three cases of pandemic swine flu in Norway, one fatal and two severe, has raised fears that the virus is becoming nastier - but these may be premature.

The autumn wave of the pandemic may be peaking (PDF) in parts of Europe, the US and Japan, and virologists now fear that the virus might evolve to keep itself spreading - and perhaps get more deadly in the process.

There are reasons to believe that the mutation found in Norway, which is in the haemagglutinin (HA) protein on the virus's surface, could make flu more severe.

It allows the virus to bind to 2,3 sialic acid, a molecule that is common in birds - so bird flu binds to it - but is also found on cells deep in the human lungs.
 
 

Comments (1)

  1. A better article on this issue can be found at http://www.virology.ws/2009/11/24/the-d225g-change-in-2009-h1n1-influenza-virus-is-not-a-concern/. No one seems to be mentioning the fact that D225G also severely impairs transmission of H1N1 viruses in ferrets.

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