Recombinomics, a premier research institution has warned about the possibility of a hemagglutinin gene mutation with respect to the genetic constitution of the much-dreaded avian influenza virus. It is further stated that this mutation could enable human-human bird flu transmission by increasing the viral affinity for human receptors.
The company has also alerted the WHO regarding the situation that could spark a bird flu pandemic, killing millions worldwide. The H5N1 infection in the Middle East, through migratory birds, where another form of the bird flu virus is prevalent (H9N2), could lead to a change in the bird flu gene.
It is further predicted through a patent pending approach that an exchange is possible between the H gene of H5N1 with the H gene of the H9N2 virus. The H gene in H9N2 is expected to inherit the genetic change S227N that has been shown to increase the H5N1 affinity for human receptors. Six mortalities related to the S227N change have been identified in Turkey since December 2005.
'H5N1 is migrating into areas where it is encountering unique influenza sero-types it has not encountered while largely confined to Asia over the past few years. This expanded geographical reach allows H5N1 to exchange genetic material with novel donor sequences, which under the appropriate selection pressures, enables the genetic changes to become fixed in the genome of the virus. H5N1 is in the process of acquiring genetic information that allows for more efficient infections of humans', warned Dr. Henry Niman, President, Recombinomics.
H5N1 is a rapidly evolving virus. It has been predicted that the virus may acquire the ability to retain its virulence and viability by facilitation of a homologous recombination to enable creation of novel genes that would aid the above purpose. The research institution is now all set to produce vaccines that would allow efficient management of the bird flu crisis and prevention of bird flu pandemic.