Newly discovered viral marker could help predict flu severit
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Researchers at the Ana Falcón of the Spanish National Center for Biotechnology, Madrid have developed severity markers for multiple strains of influenza called defective viral genomes (DVGs). These molecules, which consist of pieces of viral RNA with missing genetic information, are found in multiple strains of flu virus. Previous research suggests that DVGs activate the immune system in infected animals, and thus might restrict severity.

To test the effectiveness of the marker, the researchers infected both mice and human tissue cell cultures with different strains of influenza A H1N1 virus and found that strains resulting in lower levels of DVG accumulation in the cell cultures also produced more severe infection in the mice. They also analyzed the genomes of viruses isolated from respiratory samples taken from people who experienced severe infection or death due to swine flu. They found that the H1N1 strain that caused severe symptoms had significantly less DVG accumulation than influenza A strains sampled from people who experienced only mild symptoms. It finally resulted that low levels of DVGs may indicate a greater risk of severe disease in patients infected with influenza A virus.

With further research, these findings could help predict flu severity, guide patient treatment, and inform flu prevention strategies...

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171019164218.htm
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