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Recombinomics Inc. Predicts a New Genetic Change in the H5N1 (Avian Flu) Virus 

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Recombinomics is issuing a new prediction and warning of a likely alteration in the avian influenza H5N1 hemagglutinin gene.  Like the warning/prediction issued on October 22nd, 2005, this new alteration will increase the virus' affinity for human receptors and lead to more efficient transmission of H5N1 to humans.  The company has notified the WHO of its prediction and warning regarding the near term likelihood of this genetic alteration occurring.
In October, Recombinomic's prediction/warning was based upon H5N1 entering the Middle East via migratory birds, where another avian influenza, H9N2 was endemic.  Recombinomics, utilizing its patent pending approach, predicted that the H gene in H5N1 would exchange genetic information with the H gene in H9N2 and would acquire the genetic change S227N (also called S223N).  This alteration had been previously shown to increase the affinity of H5N1 for human receptors. In late December 2005, the first human infections by the Qinghai strain of H5N1 were reported in Turkey.  S227N was detected in the index case for that outbreak with six additional cases confirmed four of whom

Today, Recombinomics is predicting a similar change in the adjacent
position of the H5N1 virus' receptor binding domain.  The donor sequences are again on the H, but in H1N1 European swine sequences. The new genetic change, G228S, has also been previously shown to increase the affinity for human receptors.  Like H9N2 in the Middle East, H1N1 is endemic in swine populations in Europe.  Infection by H5N1 in H1N1 infected swine will allow the viruses to exchange genetic information via recombination and allow H5N1 to acquire S228N.  The region of identity between H5N1 and H1N1 is downstream from the
S227N position, so H5N1, with and without the S227N change, can acquire this new sequence.  This sequence acquisition by the H5N1 virus will also lead to more efficient transmission to humans.
"H5N1 is migrating into areas where it is encountering unique influenza
sero-types it has not encountered while largely confined to Asia over the past few years.  This expanded geographical reach allows H5N1 to exchange genetic material with novel donor sequences, which under the appropriate selection pressures, enables the genetic changes to become fixed in the genome of the virus.  H5N1 is in the process of acquiring genetic information that allows for more efficient infections of humans", said Recombinomics President, Dr. Henry Niman.

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 ( ), 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
     Recombinomics, Inc.
     648 Field Club Road,
     Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15238
     Tel. 866.973.2662

     Web Site:

SOURCE Recombinomics Inc.
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