Personalizing medicine to prevent pandemics

Mar 29, 2010

What makes some viral infections fatal and others much less severe is largely a mystery. It is thought that a part of the variability can be attributed to differences in how individuals respond to infection.

Professor Michael Katze, presenting at the Society for General Microbiology's spring meeting in Edinburgh today, describes how computer modelling could be a powerful tool to allow treatments to be tailored to individuals. This approach could ultimately prevent future pandemics.

Professor Katze, from the University of Washington in Seattle reveals how 'systems biology' methods could successfully tackle viral infections, such as HIV and virus, for which there is still no effective vaccine or treatment.

"Systems biology is like a Rubik's cube - it's a matrix that integrates computational models, experimental systems and high-throughput data in a variety of combinations to solve the puzzle of virus-host interactions. It provides a powerful new approach to virology, and vaccine development," explained Professor Katze.

Computer models of the whole cell can be made and tested by simulating virus-induced changes and monitoring the whole cell response. Comparing the model to real biological examples allows the model to be refined and allows researchers to make further predictions about how different cells respond to different changes.

Improved animal models may help us understand how differences in an individual's genetic make-up affect HIV development. "Determining which host genes affect HIV progression has been relatively slow using the current techniques in isolation," remarked Professor Katze. "Some current studies indicate there is a link between genes that affect how enter the and disease progression," he continued.

Identifying the molecules produced from these host genes could provide a method to effectively detect disease, predict how individuals respond to infection and even establish how effective a vaccine is. "If this becomes as easy as doing a simple blood test, we will be equipped to provide the most effective treatment to the individual. This will limit the spread of the virus which in turn could help protect the population as a whole and even prevent the next pandemic," suggested Professor Katze.

Explore further: Sierra Leone, Liberia brace for new Ebola cases

Provided by Society for General Microbiology

5 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

How HIV vaccine might have increased odds of infection

Nov 03, 2008

In September 2007, a phase II HIV-1 vaccine trial was abruptly halted when researchers found that the vaccine may have promoted, rather than prevented, HIV infection. A new study by a team of researchers at the Montpellier ...

Possible hepatitis C vaccine

Sep 05, 2007

Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) infects up to 500,000 people in the UK alone, many of the infections going undiagnosed. It is the single biggest cause of people requiring a liver transplant in Britain. Now, in a collaborative effort ...

New vaccine prevents CMV infection and disease in mice

Jun 22, 2007

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences have patented a strategy for developing a human vaccine to prevent against Human Cytomegalovirus (hCMV) infection ...

Recommended for you

Team finds method for more precise diagnosis of pneumonia

19 minutes ago

A patient survives life-threatening trauma, is intubated in the intensive care unit (ICU) to support his or her affected vital functions, starts to recover, and then develops pneumonia. It's a scenario well-known to physicians, ...

Screen women for chlamydia, gonorrhea, experts say

1 hour ago

(HealthDay)—All sexually active women should be screened for two of the most common sexually transmitted infections: chlamydia and gonorrhea, according to new recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services ...

Noninvasive devices may help migraines, FDA says

2 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Two new prescription devices approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may provide some relief for people with migraine headaches who don't tolerate migraine medications well, ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

rachielondon
not rated yet Mar 29, 2010
I completely agree, this research has lots of promise. I look forward to hearing the future developments.

I feel we should be concentrating on any path's that will lead us to more vaccines, But we probably all know why their hasn't been as much as most would like.