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2,000 influenza virus genomes now completed and publicly accessible

The Influenza Genome Sequencing Project, funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced today that it has achieved a major milestone. The entire genetic blueprints of more than 2,000 human and avian influenza viruses taken from samples around the world have been completed and the sequence data made available in a public database.

"This information will help scientists understand how influenza viruses evolve and spread," says NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., "and it will aid in the development of new flu vaccines, therapies and diagnostics."

"Scientists around the world can use the sequence data to compare different strains of the virus, identify the genetic factors that determine their virulence, and look for new therapeutic, vaccine and diagnostic targets," says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.

The Influenza Genome Sequencing Project, initiated in 2004, has been carried out at the NIAID-funded Microbial Sequencing Center managed by The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) of Rockville, Maryland. The project is currently directed by David Spiro, Ph.D., and Claire Fraser, Ph.D., at TIGR and Elodie Ghedin, Ph.D., at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Recently, growing sequencing capacity has enabled the production rate to increase to more than 200 viral genomes per month. Eclipsing todays milestone of 2,000 genomes, the microbial sequencing center will continue to rapidly sequence more influenza strains and isolates and will make all the sequence data freely available to the scientific community and the public through GenBank, an Internet-accessible database of genetic sequences maintained by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) at NIHs National Library of Medicine, another major contributor to the project.

Seasonal influenza is a major public health concern in the United States, accounting f
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Contact: Jason Socrates Bardi
jbardi@niaid.nih.gov
301-402-1663
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
21-Feb-2007


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