Influenza virus data for anyone with Internet access
Scientists at the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
have released genetic blueprints for over 650 genes of influenza viruses into a
database accessible to researchers worldwide.
The action marks the beginning of a collaboration between the CDC and the Association of Public Health
Laboratories (APHL) that will allow for greater access to data on a variety
of influenza virus samples obtained from patients in the US, including avian
influenza H5N1 if it should arrive.
Through the new collaboration, CDC expects to provide genetic information for
several hundred influenza viruses per year as a way to encourage more research
The sequence data will be available in nearly real time through Genbank, a
public-access library for virus sequences managed by the National Institutes of
Health, and through an influenza database housed at Los Alamos National
The information added will include viruses from the annual flu season in the
US, any animal influenza viruses that infect humans and any novel strains that
may emerge such as avian influenza H5N1. The new agreement will only apply to
viruses isolated in the US.
"CDC has long supported the timely and open sharing of influenza virus
information to foster new research on influenza," said Dr Nancy Cox, director of
the CDC's Influenza Division. "With more information, the world's influenza
experts can advance our understanding of the viruses circulating, potentially
create new prevention strategies and treatments, and ultimately help us better
protect the health of people around the world."
Previously, the influenza sequences were available to a small number of
influenza researchers who work together with WHO to recommend which
influenza viruses should be included in influenza vaccines around the world. The
sequence data will now be available through GenBank to anyone with Internet
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