Journals speed up flu studies

Many top tier science journals are going into overdrive to publish data about the emerging swine-origin influenza A (H1N1) virus epidemic, compressing what is often a multi-month process into just a few days or weeks. Influenza virusImage: National High Magnetic Field Laboratory,Florida State UniversityAn international research team led by linkurl:Neil Ferguson; of Imperial College London published a linkurl:report;http://www.sciencemag.

By | May 11, 2009

Many top tier science journals are going into overdrive to publish data about the emerging swine-origin influenza A (H1N1) virus epidemic, compressing what is often a multi-month process into just a few days or weeks.
Influenza virus
Image: National High Magnetic Field Laboratory,
Florida State University
An international research team led by linkurl:Neil Ferguson; of Imperial College London published a linkurl:report; online today (May 11) in __Science__ showing that the current outbreak is on par or less hazardous than previous influenza pandemics. The researchers analyzed data from late April and found that the virus' transmission rate and clinical severity are not as bad as seen during the 1918 Spanish flu but are similar to other 20th century pandemics. Although the study was received and published in less than a week, "the paper was subjected to usual standards during the rigorous review process," linkurl:Natasha Pinol,; a __Science__ spokesperson, said in an email. Last Thursday (May 7), a team of epidemiologists from US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a linkurl:study; in the __New England Journal of Medicine__ (NEJM) chronicling all 642 reported cases of human infection with the virus dating from April 15 to May 5. This analysis detailed the most common symptoms of the disease and showed that young people might be particularly susceptible to infection. "We knew this was important and we wanted to get it out," linkurl:Edward Campion,; __NEJM__'s senior deputy editor and online editor, told __The Scientist__. The paper underwent a full peer review process, but each review "was compressed into a day or two." Campion noted that the 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) prepared __NEJM__ for the latest epidemic. This time around, the journal could respond even quicker, though, because its updated electronic review system streamlined and accelerated the publication pipeline. "The limiting factor is the human effort," he noted. __NEJM__ editors "worked overtime, evening and weekends" to get the paper ready for publication. "It's a very demanding process, and something we save for those few times a year when we really need it," he said. The open access publisher __BioMed Central__ (BMC) -- which will be publishing many original articles, commentaries, editorials and mini-reviews relating to the latest H1N1 virus within the coming weeks -- is "working hard to process all flu-related manuscripts as rapidly as we can," said linkurl:Melissa Norton,; __BMC__'s editorial director of Medicine. Reviewers, editors, and authors alike are asked to handle manuscripts in an expedited fashion, which allows papers to be published within "a matter of weeks," she said.
**__Related stories:__***linkurl:What about fast-track?;
[February 2006]*linkurl:Speed the publishing process;
[20th February 1995]


Avatar of: Jesse Creel

Jesse Creel

Posts: 12

May 13, 2009

Virology Journal: Towards a sane and rational approach to management of Influenza H1N1 2009.\n\nPlease see the article abstract and link to open access of the article below, sent to me by Dr Robert Malone.\n\nIt is an excellent article, by far the best I have seen to date on Influenza H1N1\n2009. I will be passing it on to the White House, my Senators, Congresswoman and others at NIH, CDC, WHO.\n\nMy hat is off to Dr William R Gallaher, author, for this article.\n\nJesse Creel\nVaccine Research Advocate\n6649 Mckibbon Rd\nNorth Branch, MI 48461\\n----- Original Message ----- \nFrom: "Robert Malone" \nSent: Tuesday, May 12, 2009 11:04 AM\nSubject: Virology Journal: Towards a sane and rational approach to\nmanagement of Influenza H1N1 2009.\n\n\n>\n>\n> Commentary\n> Towards a sane and rational approach to management of Influenza H1N1 2009\n>\n> William R Gallaher email\n>\n> Virology Journal 2009, 6:51doi:10.1186/1743-422X-6-51\n> Published: 7 May 2009\n> Abstract (provisional)\n>\n> Beginning in March 2009, an outbreak of influenza in North America was\n> found to be caused by a new strain of influenza virus, designated\n> Influenza H1N1 2009, which is a reassortant of swine, avian and human\n> influenza viruses. Over a thousand total cases were identified with\n> the first month, chiefly in the United States and Mexico, but also\n> involving several European countries. Actions concerning Influenza\n> H1N1 2009 need to be based on fact and science, following\n> recommendations of public health officials, and not fueled by\n> political, legal or other interests. Every influenza outbreak or\n> pandemic is unique, so the facts of each one must be studied before an\n> appropriate response can be developed. While reports are preliminary,\n> through the first 4 weeks of the outbreak it does not appear to be\n> severe either in terms of the attack rate in communities or in the\n> virulence of the virus itself. However, there are significant changes\n> in both the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase proteins of the new virus,\n> 27.2% and 18.2% of the amino acid sequence, from prior H1N1 isolates\n> in 2008 and the current vaccine. Such a degree of change qualifies as\n> an "antigenic shift", even while the virus remains in the H1N1 family\n> of influenza viruses, and may give influenza H1N1 2009 significant\n> pandemic potential. Perhaps balancing this shift, the novel virus\n> retains more of the core influenza proteins from animal strains than\n> successful human influenza viruses, and may be inhibited from its\n> maximum potential until further reassortment or mutation better adapts\n> it to multiplication in humans. While contact and respiratory\n> precautions such as frequent handwashing will slow the virus through\n> the human population, it is likely that development of a new influenza\n> vaccine tailored to this novel Influenza H1N1 2009 strain will be\n> essential to blunt its ultimate pandemic impact.\n>\n> -- \n> Robert W Malone, MD, MS\n> Vaccines and Biotechnology\n> (US) 770 735 1549\n>\n>\n>\n\nDr. Robert W Malone is editor of the open access Journal of Immune Based Therapies and Vaccines.


Posts: 4

May 13, 2009

Because of current public health interest in swine influenza, the Society for General Microbiology (SGM;, publisher of Journal of General Virology (JGV; and Journal of Medical Microbiology (JMM;, has made all papers on H1N1 influenza viruses freely available across these journals. \n\nUnder normal circumstances, papers published in JGV and JMM are under access controls for 12 months after publication. Older papers concerning H1N1 influenza viruses will already be freely available.\n\nDr Nicolas Fanget\nStaff Editor\n \nWeb:\nOn-line journals: \n\nSociety for General Microbiology\nMarlborough House \nBasingstoke Road\nSpencers Wood\nReading RG7 1AG, UK\n\nCompany Limited by Guarantee. Registered in England No. 1039582.\nRegistered Office as above. Registered as a Charity in England and Wales, No. 264017\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 11

May 13, 2009

Fast moving epidemics require a cardinal change in the way that science is peer reviewed and published. We can use online analysis and distribution to radically change the dynamics of science. \n\nVisit us at and\n\nWe've started an effort to build an open access web portal for scientific research. Through an online collaboration, analysis and publication engine we aim to provide a virtual laboratory environment where they can share their research from conception to finished product. We are building the next generation scientific platform that aims to unify researchers in academia as well as enable transparency and availability in scientific data. \n\nVisit us at and\n\n\nBarak Shahen
Avatar of: Dan Abshear

Dan Abshear

Posts: 8

May 14, 2009

Virus is a Latin word, meaning ?poison?. \n\nA virus is more of a very well organized molecular parasite than an actual life form, such as bacteria. \n\nThe virus cannot grow or reproduce without a host cell- another life form. That means it needs a bird or mammal, such as humans, in order to exist and thrive. \n\nAnd the virus has the potential to completely destroy the host they have acquired in the process in order to exist.\nPresently, influenza is once again a very concerning sub-microscopic infectious agent, and we are their potential hosts in order for these viruses to survive. \nThe influenza viruses are of what are called orthomyxoviruses, which is a group or family of RNA viruses that are categorized into A, B, and C. \n\nThe Influenza A virus is the one that historically has caused pandemics that have developed in the past. \n\nAbout eighty percent of flu cases in the U.S. are type A influenza viruses. \n\nInfluenza vaccinations are the only available method of prevention at this time from the potentially deadly effects of influenza.\n\nInfluenza is the virus responsible for the disease that has its name, and it is spread easily to other humans. \n\nThis virus can be deadly to a greater degree when the virus creates a pandemic, which did happen in the United States and other parts of the world less than 100 years ago. \n\nOther influenza pandemics primarily and historically have occurred in countries in Asia.\n\nFor an influenza pandemic to occur, which means a global disease existence and presence, the virus must emerge from another species to humans without a strong immune system- as well as the ability to make more humans ill than normal due to the constant mutation of the influenza virus.\n\nAlso, the virus must be highly contagious for a pandemic to occur. \n\nThat pandemic caused around a half a million deaths in the United States alone. \n\nThis event is now known as the Great Influenza Epidemic.\n\nUnderstandably there was panic among people worldwide, as the influenza virus itself was not identified until the year 1933.\n\nSo, the mystery was rather frightening of what was happening at that time. \n\nThe etiology for the illness and the deaths that followed at such a rapid rate was a complete mystery to everyone at the time.\nClearly, at times these influenza strains are more dangerous than others, and this was one of the strains that clearly proved to be much more during that particular epidemic. \n\nThe potentially deadly effects of the influenza virus is due to this virus penetrating the host, such as a human being \n\nOnce infected and established in the host, the virus replicates within the cell of the host in the cell?s cytoplasm. \n\nTo survive, the influenza virus targets an enzyme called polymerase, which is what directs the content of this cell to produce proteins the virus needs to exist. \n \nUnlike coryza, influenza expresses symptoms more severely, and usually lasts two weeks until one recovers who has the flu.\n\nInfluenza, however, poses a danger to some with compromised immune systems, such as the chronically ill. \n\nSo the risk is greater in such populations, along with women who may be pregnant during the flu season, residents of nursing homes or chronic care facilities.\n \nIf unprotected by an effective influenza vaccination given to such patient populations, influenza has a greater ability to penetrate hosts and create complications. \n\nThese complications may include deadly diseases, such as bacterial pneumonia or encephalitis.\n\nSymptoms of influenza usually start to express themselves symptomatically about two days or so after being infected with the virus. \n\nOver 10 percent of the population is infected with this virus every year- resulting in about 200,000 hospitalizations and nearly 40,000 deaths, according to the Center For Disease Control (CDC). \n\nThose who do survive an influenza infection allow others to obtain antibodies from them to develop other antibodies for future viral outbreaks. \n\nThe antibodies are used to produce vaccines to prevent acquisition of the damaging effects of influenza. \n\nYet this is only if the antibodies contained in the influenza vaccine are effective against the suspected particular influenza strains that are present during the influenza season.\n\nSpecifically, it is usually what is known as strept pneumo bacteria that kill those due to an infection of these microbes due to being invaded by influenza, ultimately. \n\nThis is the type of bacteria that typically infect a person suffering from influenza who may have compromised immune systems, as mentioned earlier. \n\nIn these cases, the bacteria are allowed to thrive at a higher and more deadly rate. \n\nOn average, it takes over a week for one to die after being infected by influenza that has the power to cause death in particular human populations. \n\nPandemic flu outbreaks, such as the one that happened that was mentioned earlier was an influenza strain so powerful that it overkills the cells of its host. \n\nThe influenza virus has this ability on occasion, and its efficacy is dependent on its mutations that have developed over time that make it more powerful than other influenza viruses.\n\nThe flu vaccination is trivalent- meaning it contains three viral strains of suspected viruses for flu outbreaks during a particular winter season. \n\nThe viral strains are determined by the World Health Organization, as well as the Centers for Disease Control, and other organizations. \n\nYet one should keep in mind that these three strains of influenza may not even exist in a particular flu season. \n\nThe vaccination is a guess, at best, yet is certainly better than the absence of a flu vaccination.\n\nUnfortunately, the influenza vaccine administered last flu season was believed to be largely ineffective due to unsuspected strains of the virus infecting others. \n\nAlthough about 140 million injections of this vaccine were administered, this proved to be pointless for preventative medicine for influenza during this season. \n\nThe most recent flu season was fairly mild, according to the CDC.\n\nAfter giving the vaccination dose to one, it takes about 10 days for that person to build up the immunity for the disease of influenza. \n\nThe months of October to December are recommended to receive this vaccine. \n\nAnd the vaccine is about 50 percent effective in offering protection from influenza, according to others, if one calculates the previous flu seasons with flu vaccinations. \n \nVaccines are a catalyst for antibody production in humans, which protect them against the virus, if the influenza virus happens to present itself within them. \n\nThe influenza vaccines can be given by injection or nasally. \n \nThe flu season that is now occurring was supplied with 150 million vaccines in the United States.\n\nHowever, some studies have shown that this vaccine is rather ineffective based on incidences of the acquisition of the influenza virus by others, initial reports have indicated.\n\nThe influenza season peaks between the months of January and March.\n\nThe vaccine for this influenza season is manufactured by 6 different companies in preparation for this timeframe of the influenza season. \n\nAlso, it takes manufacturers about 6 months to make and formulate the influenza vaccination. \n \nThe influenza vaccine is produced every year according to which type of virus types that may be prevalent during a particular flu season. \n\nThe presence of influenza can be widespread in certain states, yet not others. The vaccination is recommended to be administered to those who are at high risk, such as the chronically ill. \n\nAlso, it is recommended that those under 18 years of age get the vaccine, as well as those people over the age of 50. \n\nPregnant women should receive the immunization. Health care personnel are always encouraged to get a flu vaccine as well. \n\nSuch populations of those recommended to receive the flu vaccination are those believed to need the protection the vaccine may offer the most. \n\nThis is of concern, as influenza can progress rapidly into the more serious illnesses mentioned earlier that can lead to death.\n\nAnti-virals, on the other hand, decrease greatly the ability for viruses to reproduce once established in a human. \n\nThat seems like it should be a focus during viral seasons instead of any vaccination that exist today regarding the disease of influenza. \n\nYet, as with antibiotics, viruses can become resistant to anti-virals as well.\n\nYet the strains chosen for the influenza vaccine contain what are speculated influenza viruses. \n\nSo the vaccine is ineffective if a new and dominant influenza viral strain that possibly could cause a pandemic happens to be present during an influenza season.\n\nWith the influenza virus, again it can have the ability to kill mammals, as well as birds, along with humans at times. \n\nThe concern that there is an influenza strain that exists that has the ability to mutate. \n\nIf this happens, the viruses have the ability to share genetic data between separate life forms as they, multiply within each one of them with ease. \n\nThis is the case with what is known as the Avian Flu, as well as the Swine Flu.\n\nThe most recent avian influenza virus was identified in China in 1997. Called the H5N1 virus subtype, it has the potential to be the next flu pandemic. \n\nThe last Swine Flu outbreak occured in the United States during the mid 1970s.\n\nHowever, the virus responsible for the pandemic mentioned earlier was an avian influenza, which was called the H1N1 influenza virus.\n \nThis virus, unlike the human influenza virus, has a longer incubation period- about 5 days.\n\n Also, H5N1 has the ability to mutate more rapidly, as well as replicate at a similar speed. \n\nAvian influenza viruses are highly pathogenic. No one fully understands the influenza virus and its rapid ability to mutate.\n\nThis is because this particularly malicious virus is the result of two separate influenza viruses acquiring the same host at the same time. \n\nAs a result of mutual sharing of genetic material between the two viruses, novel attributes are allowed to develop and create a H5N1 that obviously prove to be rather deadly. \n\nThe H5N1 Avian influenza virus seems to have become progressively more pathogenic in the past decade, according to others.\n\nThe letters H and N, by the way, stand for the antigens HA and NA-and are the letters of proteins that protrude from the viral shell. \n\nIt is these proteins that mutate so often with the influenza virus, and which is why we continue to be infected with this virus.\n\nWith the Avian Influenza existing with the H5N1 strain, millions of birds have been slaughtered due to the danger and unpredictability of this strain. \n\nThe first recorded incidence of human-to-human transmission of the H5N1 virus was believed to be in Thailand in 2004. \n\nThere have been outbreaks of Avian flu in about 10 or 20 countries in the world so far- with Indonesia appearing to be the worst. \n\nMigratory birds spread this influenza virus between continents.\n\nThe pathogenic strength of the H5N1strain varies due to constant re-assortment or switching of genetic material between the viruses.\n\nThis essentially creates hybrid modifications of what it was before this occurs due to this re-assortment that makes this virus much more virulent. \n\nSo far, nearly a half a million people worldwide have been infected with this strain. \n\nAlso, about half have died from the infection caused by this H5N1 influenza virus. \n\nVaccinations are being developed and reformulated constantly at this time due to the pandemic threat of the H5N1 Influenza virus, and most recently, the swine flu virus. Of the two, the H5N1 is believed to be more deadly.\n\\n\nDan Abshear\n

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