n his first media interview since returning from an international scientific mission to China last week, Professor Angus Nicoll said the H7N9 flu outbreak in humans was one that should be taken extremely seriously and watched closely.
And when we get our first outbreak - unfortunate patient death - BCRX stock ramps higher. I don't see Roche as the answer to combating bird flu. It will be a new drug currently under review that will be the best defense against bird flu.
High pathogenicity of H7N3 avian flu in Mexico elucidated
The high pathogenicity of the H7N3 avian flu strain that infected chickens in Mexico last summer and led to the culling of millions of birds was likely the result of the strain's acquisition of a new extended cleavage site described in a study from Singapore yesterday in Virology Journal. The cleavage site was not present in the closest low-pathogenic precursors and appears to have been acquired naturally through recombination with host 29S ribosomal RNA, the authors found through phylogenetic, sequence, and structural analysis. Previously such an insertion has been observed only in a laboratory setting, with natural acquisition having occurred from the viral genome. The authors state, "Given the abundance of viral and host RNA in infected cells, the acquisition of a pathogenicity-enhancing extended cleavage site through a similar route by other low-pathogenic avian strains in future does not seem unlikely." The new virus can infect humans but lacks critical host-receptor adaptations that would facilitate human-to-human transmission. The authors note, however, that surveillance for future changes that could enhance such transmission is important.
May 1 Virol J abstract