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TIGR, CDC Play Role in NIAID Effort to Sequence Influenza Genomes

NEW YORK, Nov. 15 (GenomeWeb News) -The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has begun collaborating with a number of research organizations to sequence the genomes of thousands of influenza viruses.


NIAID expects that the project will help expand researchers' understanding of the viruses with the ultimate goal of developing new vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.


The sequencing project will be conducted in part by the NIAIDMicrobialSequencingCenterat The Institute for Genome Research. Collaborating on the research will be scientists from the National Center for Biotechnology Information of the NIH National Library of Medicine; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; St. Jude Children's Hospital; the Wadsworth Center ofm the New York State Department of Health; and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.


NIAID said it will "rapidly make this sequence information publicly available" through GenBank and the NIAIDBioinformaticsResourceCenter.


Financial details were not released.


"Influenza viruses present formidable scientific and public health challenges because they undergo continual genetic changes that enable them to evade the body's immune response and sometimes become more virulent," Anthony Fauci, director of NIAID, said in a statement today. "We anticipate that these data will be used to recognize patterns of genetic changes and illuminate important questions such as how avian influenza viruses adapt to infect humans."


According to David Lipman, director of NCBI, the whole genome sequence data generated by the project will provide references for researchers who study how influenza viruses cause disease, conduct global surveillance of influenza activity, and help select the most appropriate virus strains to include in the annual influenza vaccine.


The sequence data will provide a larger and more representative sample for influenza than previously available to the public, he noted, adding that the publication of genomic sequences of emerging avian influenza viruses will allow scientists to analyze the strains and begin development of vaccines against them.

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