Friday feature: 7.346 Virus-host Interactions in Infectious Diseases

A post we ran in May, but maybe more timely as we enter flu season.

Open Matters

a flu virus shown as a 3 dimensional illustration with half of a blue-green sphere, covered in tiny orange spikes, with purple spiral strands inside the sphere.

MIT News recently shared new understandings of the flu viruses circulating in livestock, and their potential to spark pandemics in human populations:

Potential flu pandemic lurks

MIT study identifies influenza viruses circulating in pigs and birds that could pose a risk to humans.

Anne Trafton, MIT News Office

In the summer of 1968, a new strain of influenza appeared in Hong Kong. This strain, known as H3N2, spread around the globe and eventually killed an estimated 1 million people.

A new study from MIT reveals that there are many strains of H3N2 circulating in birds and pigs that are genetically similar to the 1968 strain and have the potential to generate a pandemic if they leap to humans. The researchers, led by Ram Sasisekharan, the Alfred H. Caspary Professor of Biological Engineering at MIT, also found that current flu vaccines might not offer protection against these strains.

“There are indeed…

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