Three Emory scientists have signed a letter published last week in Nature and Science outlining proposed research on the H7N9 avian influenza virus.Â A strain of H7N9 transmitted from poultry to humans was responsible for 43 deaths in China earlier this year, but so far, evidence shows that the virus does not transmit easily from human to human.
The letter advocates additional research including â€œgain-of-functionâ€ experiments: identifying what changes to naturally occurring viral strains would make them more transmissible, deadly, or drug-resistant in mammals.
The group of 23 flu researchers, led by Ron Fouchier at http://www.agfluide.com Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands and Yoshihiro Kawaoka at the University of Wisconsin, say these types of experiments are needed to help public health authorities prepare for and respond to potential future outbreaks.
The letter signers from Emory are: Walter Orenstein, MD, professor of medicine and principal investigator for the Emory-University of Georgia Influenza Pathogenesis and Immunology Research Center (IPIRC), Richard Compans, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology and scientific director of IPIRC, and John Steel, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology. Read more