Insights into the pandemic ability of bird flu virus

25 July 2012 USA ( A clinical research study data suggest that at least five genetic mutations or antigenic drifts must occur within the bird flu virus (H5N1) before it can result in a pandemic threat among humans. Overall three studies were carried out in this regard of which, one research evidence states that certain of these detrimental genetic alterations are already present in the current circulating strains of the virus. The study papers were written long before last year, but were held back due to the fear of international pioneers of the use of this data to create bio-weapons by the terrorists on making it public to the entire world. Such drastic changes in the genetic pattern of the viral genome make it strong and quick along with shielding it from the defense system. Also, it is a fact that such serial transformation in the viral genetic makeup makes it a deadly strain with potential threat to a wide range of biotic lives. Scientists claim that H5N1 is not associated with pandemic potential in humans, which is attributed to its inability to spread quickly and easily in mammals. But, on the other hand they do claim that the constant mutating capacity of the virus may bestow some of the functions attributed to H1N1 making it a threat to humans. This can be achieved in two ways – one through the collection of chance mutations and the other by the exchange of genes with another virus such as H1N1, which is known as genetic reassortment. Currently, the area of research focus for most of the scientists is to inspect the mutation potential of H5N1 virus into a detrimental strain and to check the genes involved in such transformation. This data may prove to be of significance for surveillance as well as to assess the genetic changes occurring in the emerging strains with respect to their pandemic risk. 4th lane, Fontana, California, USA-92337