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Gene Mutation Caused 2009 H1N1 Virus Spread 158

An anonymous reader writes "Researchers have found that a gene mutation was the reason behind the increased virulence of the 2009 H1N1 swine flu virus which resulted in a pandemic across the world. 'The H1N1 virus, Kawaoka explains, is really a combination of four different avian and swine flu viruses that have emerged over the past 90 years, and even includes genetic residue of the 1918 pandemic virus, an influenza that killed as many as 20 million people.' The University of Wisconsin-Madison's School of Veterinary Medicine researchers identified the relocation of a specific amino acid in the gene matrix that enabled the virus to hijack host cells, a feat that triggered the recent pandemic." The World Health Organization's director general said H1N1 is likely to lose its status as a pandemic very soon.
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Gene Mutation Caused 2009 H1N1 Virus Spread

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  • by Spazntwich ( 208070 ) on Monday August 09, 2010 @06:03PM (#33196850)

    Hey, can I get a single nucleotide polymorphism that enables limb regeneration?

    No, I get a weird catecholamine oxidizer that makes me more likely to kill people.

    • It's because you require more minerals to build that spawning pool and evolution chamber. Just wait till you start using vespene gas, THEN you'll be frustrated with managing your mutations.

    • nucleotide beggars can't be polypeptide choosers

    • by thms ( 1339227 ) on Monday August 09, 2010 @06:36PM (#33197324)

      Oh, but you do get mutations! In fact, mutations which allow you to defeat H1N1! And not just a single replaced amino acid, no, lots more! Now how does that silly virus look?

      When an immune systems B-cell find something it doesn't like, such as a virus, it goes into a feedback loop, mutates itself so that some copies will dislike said virus even more. In the end you have an immune system against which this virus doesn't stand a chance even though it was a completely unknown pathogen hours earlier. And this response will remain intact for years! (see: vaccination) This is called somatic hypermutation []. On the downside, somatic means it won't make it into your germ line so your children will have to mutate all on their own again (though IIRC some of the mothers immune system cells make it into the child to help out a bit).

    • Hey, can I get a single nucleotide polymorphism that enables limb regeneration?

      Sure, if you feel okay with the idea of being a single damaged cell away from rapid uncontrollable tissue growth... :P

      • by Korin43 ( 881732 )

        Sure, if you feel okay with the idea of being a single damaged cell away from rapid uncontrollable tissue growth... :P

        You mean like the Hulk right? That would be awesome.

      • I suppose America already has enough of that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 09, 2010 @06:09PM (#33196934)


    Simply put, H1N1 was fine tuned by the government in a lab. The H1N1 was a completely engineered 'pandemic' from top to bottom, in order to get a brainless populace to take a vaccine that will damage their DNA.

    • ...and the "vaccine" was delivered as a retrovirus in many small batches to specific locations such that anyone vaccinated can have their DNA analyzed to determine their origin as of V-Day.

      0: Release mutation of the flu for which no one has antibodies.
      1: Secretly introduce geo-specific retrovirus as a vaccine.
      2: Support the world's governments cataloging of their populous' DNA [].
      3: Sell H1N1 DNA marker geo-database as a way to identify the actual origin of suspected spies to highest bidder.
      4: Profit!

  • by Vornzog ( 409419 ) on Monday August 09, 2010 @06:20PM (#33197090)

    The linked summary article is so much technobabble. Slashdot is full of smart people who can handle a link to an open access journal article...

    Go to [] to find out that the lack of a Lysine (K627) in the PB2 gene would normally prohibit this virus from replicating in humans, but is compensated for by the presence of a Arginine (R591) residue. These are both basic amino acids, and are located near each other on the structure. So, just a standard compensatory mutation - the sort of thing flu does all the time.

    This is a nice bit of science, but it hardly explains the cause of the whole pandemic (this was a Franken-virus cobbled together from 4 other viruses). More science, less sensationalism, please!

    • Thank you for your technobable. :)
    • My main question: how many injuries/deaths did this cause over what the usual seasonal flu would have during the same time period?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Vornzog ( 409419 )

        Quite a few less deaths than seasonal flu, seems to be the consensus. It was a pandemic in that it spread world-wide, but not a very deadly one. In fact, WHO seriously debated not calling it a pandemic to prevent panic, but eventually called it anyway because it met the definition.

        This got a lot of press because it was a pandemic, and because it effected children instead of seniors. Didn't actually kill that many people, though.

        • ...and because it effected children

          That is an impressive virus. Does it increase libido or fertility?

          • by Vornzog ( 409419 )

            Sieg heil, Herr Grammer!

            So I don't proofread my Slashdot comments as well as my journal articles. Does anyone?

            To your question - no, flu tends to lower libido, and no one cares about whether you are fertile. Most people can't think about sex when they have a major respiratory viral infection making them feel worse than they have ever felt...

        • by geekoid ( 135745 )

          IN the end, your basically correct. However when it was first discovered it's mortality was 50%.

          When something like that breaks loose, you must act immediately. We dodged a bullet.

          Also it effect children and pregnant women. Many of are hospitals where out of beds.

          • by Vornzog ( 409419 )

            No question, we thought the mortality rate was high(er) when this started, but quoting 50% is silly - it was endemic in rural Mexico for ~2 months before it was recognized in the US. Their health care isn't great, and certainly some people died that didn't need to, but nothing like 50%.

            If it had been that high, the Mexican government would have recognized that they had a problem. As was, it wasn't until there were two cases in the US that were identified and characterized that Mexico was forced to acknowl

    • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday August 09, 2010 @06:37PM (#33197340)

      Is that is WAS a pandemic but the word doesn't mean what most people think. Pandemic has the connotation of something that kills a lot, but it really just means a disease that spreads a lot. It literally means "an epidemic that is geographically widespread; occurring throughout a region or even throughout the world." So you can have a harmless pandemic (as this one largely was) just as you can have an extremely fatal disease that doesn't spread much. A pandemic itself isn't scary, it is a pandemic of a disease with a high kill rate that is.

      So for the people who feel like it wasn't really a pandemic, that is simply a function of the media sensationalizing a word. The disease was a pandemic in its spread, but its kill rate was exceedingly low, even lower than normal flu strains, meaning that the net harm wasn't very much.

      • But doesn't declaring it a pandemic at least imply that it has SOME danger? By your definition couldn't the diseases caused by the human herpes virus family be declared a "pandemic" since it is insanely widespread? For instance, I would say at LEAST 95% of the people reading this post are currently infected with at least one strain of the virus.
    • lack of a Lysine (K627) in the PB2 gene

      As they say, nature will find a way.

  • That SOB! (Score:3, Funny)

    by El_Smack ( 267329 ) on Monday August 09, 2010 @06:29PM (#33197222)
    Holy Cow! I work with Gene. I never thought he was capable of something like this.

    Just goes to show you never really know someone.
  • I read this as "Green Martian Caused 2009 H1N1 Virus Spread".... it's been a long day I guess.
  • that factory farming, where pigs are crammed close together to cut costs contributed to the gene mutation and spreading of the Swine Flu.

  • []

    Infectious disease doc who also makes a Zaphod reference in his FAQ.

    I highly recommend his podcast. ep 20, 34,35,42 discusses the flu, but all his stuff is good, and he sites sources.

    The world needs more Mark Crislip.

Loose bits sink chips.