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Predicts Important Genetic Change in the H5N1 (Avian Flu) Virus
PITTSBURGH, Feb. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Recombinomics Inc. issued an avian influenza prediction and warning on October 22, 2005 of a likely genetic alteration in the H5N1 hemagglutinin gene that would lead to more efficient transmission of H5N1 to humans. This genetic change was linked to H5N1 from migrating birds flying into the Middle East and infecting birds indigenous to the region already carrying another avian influenza sero-type, H9N2.
Recombinomics clearly predicted that this dual infection would allow the
genetic material of the two viruses to recombine and create an important
genetic change. Specifically, the company's President, Dr. Henry Niman,
predicted that the serine at position 227 (also called 223) would change to asparagine. This change would increase the affinity of the hemagglutinin glycoprotein for human receptors, leading to an increased efficiency of transmission of H5N1 from birds to humans, and very possibly from humans to humans.
On January 5, 2006 the WHO announced that H5N1 had been confirmed in a human index case in Turkey. On January 19th, the scientific journal, Nature, summarized this development and described ongoing research at the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), in London, that identified the genetic alteration, S227N (also called S223N) -- confirming the change predicted in the aforementioned Recombinomics warning of October 22, 2005. Recombinomics stood alone in making this prediction.
"Recombinomics, Inc. utilized a proprietary understanding of the natural
process of recombination to identify potential Influenza donor sequences,
which could then recombine with H5N1 in wild birds to produce an altered hemagglutinin gene product that would increase the efficiency of H5N1 infections in humans" said Dr. Henry Niman. "Our patent pending technology, coupled with information on wild bird migration patterns, allowed us to identify the general timeframe, geographic location, and the specific genetic change that would occur in the H5N1 virus".
The genetic alteration predicted by Recombinomics was identified in the
index case of a large familial cluster involving at least three sets of human
cousins in Turkey. Included in this H5N1 familial cluster were seven
confirmed cases, four of which became fatal, and nine additional hospitalized cases. The size of the clusters demonstrated how small, but "predictable," genetic changes can dramatically increase the transmission efficiency of H5N1 from birds to humans, and humans to humans. This increased efficiency is the last remaining step in the progression of H5N1 toward a catastrophic pandemic.
H5N1, like most rapidly evolving viruses, uses homologous recombination to create novel genes that enhance the ability of the virus to evolve and remain competitively viable. Recombinomics' proprietary approach predicts these changes and identifies novel gene targets for new vaccines, which in turn allows manufacturers to develop vaccine in advance of the emergence of new genetically altered, and potentially pandemic viral strains.
About Recombinomics, Inc. -- The Company was founded by Dr. Henry Niman, a former Scripps Institute Assistant Member, based on his pioneering work in the area of viral evolution. Dr. Niman's research identified recombination as the underlying mechanism driving rapid genetic change, allowing him to file a series of patents based on a deep understanding of this paradigm shifting process. Recombinomics is in the process of commercializing its patent-pending approach to significantly improve the standard vaccine development process.
Recombinomics, through its analysis and commentary section of its website (http://www.recombinomics.com), has been consistently ahead of both the scientific community and government agencies in anticipating the genetic evolution and geographic expansion of H5N1.
Contact Information: Dr. Henry Niman
648 Field Club Road,
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15238
SOURCE Recombinomics Inc.
Web Site: http://www.recombinomics.com