H1N1 still a threat

MIMR_H1N1_300x180 Why does influenza make some of us much sicker than others? What are the implications for swine flu (H1N1)? Australian scientists are looking to past outbreaks for the answers.

In July 2009, the Australian Government responded to urgent global calls to use the Southern Hemisphere’s flu season as a catalyst for investigating the severity and global threat of the H1N1 flu strain.

One of the projects to receive funding is using pre-existing data on innate immune responses to other flu strains, including the disastrous Spanish flu from 1918, combined with current data collections on H1N1 to provide answers on why some people will get more severe flu symptoms than others and how we can control these reactions.

The team led by Prof. Paul Hertzog from Monash Institute of Medical Research, along with scientists and clinicians from Southern Health, the Royal Melbourne Hospital and the World Health Organization, is currently screening around 200 H1N1 infected patients and expects to deliver preliminary findings by the end of 2009.

With the Northern Hemisphere entering the winter flu season, it is crucial to pre-empt the H1N1’s ability to mutate and adapt. The team also believes this research may help towards producing effective and combative medicines and vaccines that can be adapted to suit the severity of infection for protection.

For more information: Monash Institute of Medical Research, Hailee Gyngell, Tel: +61 (3) 9594 7138, Hailee.Gyngell@med.monash.edu.au