Important legal notice
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Health - Taking the temperature of European healthcare
“To tackle the threat of emerging influenza viruses by understanding better how they interact with their hosts’ immune systems.”

The problem

Influenza can be a devastating disease, as demonstrated by the pandemic of 1918-19, which killed more people than World War I. Recent attention has focused on the dangers of avian flu becoming adapted for transmission among humans, but many forms of influenza have the potential to generate significant epidemics. To cause infection, influenza viruses must overcome a series of ‘innate immunity’ barriers within the host. We need greater understanding of the factors that determine how each virus interacts with the immune system, to combat the threat of new lethal forms of the disease.

FLUINNATE  The battle between influenza virus and its host


FLUINNATE will identify and study the essential viral and host factors that determine the outcome of influenza A infections.

The project will:

  • Test the hypothesis that the speed and efficiency by which a virus circumvents innate immunity responses are critical determinants of its host range and pathogenicity
  • Analyse the viral factors that are most crucial for virus growth, cell survival and pathogenicity
  • Produce molecular-level understanding needed to improve anti-influenza control measures

Contribution to policy development:

  • It will propose a scientific rationale for new policy approaches to influenza prevention and treatment.
  • The project will promote collaboration between researchers and policy-makers in Europe and China.

Project deliverables

  • Identification of viral genes and of host factors that contribute to high pathogenicity of specific virus types – July 2007-December 2009
  • Generation of genetically modified (‘recombinant’) viruses to test the effects of specific genes and gene products – July 2007-June 2009
  • Creation of a Sino-European network for collaboration on the avian influenza virus – active from July 2007
  • Web-based database of findings – ongoing from July 2007


  • Website carrying all results and recommendations – from July 2007
  • Publication of results in scientific journals – as available
  • Scientific and policy seminars and workshops – at regular intervals
  • Submission of relevant genetic data to GenBank or related public databases for free access by the scientific community – as available

Technical information

Project acronym: FLUINNATE
Project’s official full title: Innate immunity in influenza virus infection of mammalian airways
Research priority: Health determinants and the provision of high quality and sustainable health care services and pension systems (in particular in the context of ageing and demographic change)
Specific webpage:
Proposal/contract no: 044161
Start date: 1 January 2007
Kick off meeting: January 2007
Completion date: 31/12/2009
European Commission scientific officer: Cornelius Schmaltz,

Name: Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Abbreviated name: ALU-FR
Address: Fahnenbergplatz, 79085 Freiburg
Tel: +49 761 203 6533/34
Fax: +49 761 203 4369


Name: Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics S.r.l.
Abbreviated name: NOVARTIS
Country: Italy

Name: Universiteit Gent
Abbreviated name: UGent
Country: Belgium

Name: Philipps-Universität Marburg
Abbreviated name: UNIMAR
Country: Germany

Name: The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford
Abbreviated name: UOXF.BV
Country: United Kingdom

Name: Institut Pasteur-Unité de Génétique Moléculaire des Virus Respiratoires
Abbreviated name: IP
Country: France

Name: Fondazione Humanitas per la Ricerca
Abbreviated name: FHR
Country: Italy

Name: Shanghai Institutes of Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Abbreviated name: IPS
Country: China

Name: Alta Ricerca e Sviluppo in Biotecnologie-ALTA Srl.
Abbreviated name: ALTA
Country: Italy