By sequencing genes from a large and historic sample of avian influenza viruses, scientists say they have found a genetic marker that may determine which strains of bird flu are mild and which are deadly. The study, published online in this week?s Science, nearly doubles the amount of genetic information about the viruses, and introduces what the authors claim is a new approach to comparing genetic variation. ?They have created a resource for discovery,? David Lipman, director of the National Center for Biotechnology Information and an expert in comparative genomics and molecular evolution told The Scientist. ?There simply hasn?t been this much avian flu sequence available,? he said. ?This is a very important resource. It?s a huge jump for the entire community.?During the study, Clayton Naeve and colleagues at St. Jude Children?s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee looked at 336 viral samples from wild birds and domestic...

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