Findings could shield humans from influenza virus

Mar 30, 2010

A University of Alberta-led research team has discovered an influenza detector gene that could potentially prevent the transmission of the virus to humans.

Katharine Magor, a U of A associate professor of biology, has identified the genetic detector that allows ducks to live, unharmed, as the host of . The duck's virus detector gene, called retinoic acid inducible gene—I, or RIG-I, enables a duck's to contain the virus, which typically spreads from ducks to , where it mutates and can evolve to be a human threat like the influenza virus. The first human H5N1 cases were in Hong Kong in 1997. Eighteen people with close contact to chickens became infected and six died.

Magor's research shows chickens do not have a RIG-I gene. A healthy chicken can die within 18 hours after infection, but researchers have successfully transferred the RIG-I gene from ducks to chicken cells. The chicken's defenses against influenza were augmented and RIG-I reduced viral replication by half.

One potential application of this research could affect the worldwide poultry industry by production of an influenza-resistant chicken created by transgenesis.

The work of Katharine Magor, her U of A PhD candidate Megan Barber, and researchers from the United States (Jerry Aldridge and Robert Webster) was published March 22, in the online, early edition of Proceedings from the National Academy of Sciences.

Explore further: A real-time tracking system developed to monitor dangerous bacteria inside the body

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Bird flu virus strain found in Maryland

Sep 12, 2006

U.S. scientists say an H5N1 avian influenza virus found earlier this month in Maryland is a low pathogenic subtype and poses no threat to humans.

New host species for avian influenza identified

May 11, 2007

An eight-year surveillance study, which included more than 36,000 wild migratory birds tested for low pathogenic avian influenza, details new data on host species, prevalence, and temporal and geographical variation of avian ...

Hong Kong bird tests positive for H5N1

Mar 06, 2009

Hong Kong authorities said Friday that a dead chicken found in the southern Chinese territory had tested positive for the deadly H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus.

Recommended for you

Cause of ageing remains elusive

10 hours ago

A report by Chinese researchers in the journal Nature a few months ago was a small sensation: they appeared to have found the cause for why organisms age. An international team of scientists, headed by the ...

Newly discovered bacterial defence mechanism in the lungs

11 hours ago

A new study from Karolinska Institutet presents a previously unknown immunological mechanism that protects us against bacterial infections in the lungs. The study is being published in the American Journal of Respiratory an ...

User comments : 0