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“Studying the ‘polymerase’ molecules, which copy the influenza virus genome, to combat the emergence of pandemic influenza strains.”
 

The problem

A major concern about the much-publicised spread of avian influenza ('bird flu') is that the viruses could adapt and become readily transmissible between humans. This could cause a devastating pandemic with enormous medical, social and economic consequences. It is vital for scientists to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms that can allow the viruses to multiply in human hosts. Research has highlighted the key role of the enzyme molecules responsible for copying the viral genome, making it a top priority to learn more about how this replication process works.

FLUPOL  How influenza viruses multiply and adapt

Overview:

FLUPOL will undertake a comprehensive study of the ‘polymerase’ molecular machinery responsible for making the copies of the influenza virus genome required for viral multiplication and transmission.

The project will:

  • Determine the atomic structure of the viral polymerase molecular components
  • Identify and examine the role of factors in host cells that affect viral infectivity and transmission
  • Propose strategies for developing and testing novel anti-influenza drugs able to interfere with the viral polymerase systems

Contribution to policy development:

  • FLUPOL will undertake basic scientific research leading to new diagnostic tools and methods for monitoring the global spread of the avian influenza virus
  • It will produce results that will contribute to assessing the level of threat to human populations posed by avian influenza
  • The project will improve the scientific basis for long-term policies to prevent and respond to influenza pandemics

Project deliverables

  • Identification of mutations associated with viral adaptation to specific hosts – January 2008
  • Improved model of the viral evolutionary process – July 2008
  • Identification of host factors required for viral multiplication – June 2009
  • Results from animal studies using wild, recombinant and mutant viruses – December 2009
  • Final report with proposals for exploitation of results – December 2009

Dissemination

  • Knowledge database open to specific members of the scientific community – from 2007
  • International conference on influenza virus replication – 2008
  • Publication of results in scientific journals – as available
  • Final report with proposals for exploitation of results – December 2009

Technical information

Project acronym: FLUPOL
Project’s official full title: Host-Specific Variants of the Influenza Virus Replication Machinery
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)
Proposal/contract no: 044263
Start date: 1 January 2007
Kick off meeting: January 2007
Completion date: 31 December 2009
European Commission scientific officer: Cornelius Schmaltz, Cornelius.SCHMALTZ@ec.europa.eu

Coordinator:
Name: European Molecular Biology Laboratory
Abbreviated name: EMBL
Address: 6, rue Jules Horowitz, BP 181, 38042 Grenoble Cedex 9
Country: France
Tel: +33 (0) 476 207269
Fax: +33 (0) 476 207199
Website: http://www.embl-grenoble.fr

Partners

Name: Université Joseph Fourier – Laboratoire Virologie Moléculaire et Structurale
Abbreviated name: UJF/IVMS
Country: France

Name: Lyon Viral Interactome
Abbreviated name: INSERM
Country: France

Name: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas
Abbreviated name: CSIC
Country: Spain

Name: Institute of Virology University of Marburg
Abbreviated name: UNIMAR
Country: Germany

Name: Medical Research Council – National Institute for Medical Research
Abbreviated name: MRC/NIMR
Country: United Kingdom

 
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