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FLUPATH


Biology, Target Search and Drug Discovery

Avian Influenza: Impact of Virus-host Interactions on Pathogenesis and Ecology

EC contribution
: € 1 915 800
Duration
: 36 months
Starting date
: 01/01/2007
Instrument
: STREP
Keywords
: Avian influenza virus, virus-host interactions, virus-receptor interactions, host-specificity, expression profiling, virulence, pathology, ecology, innate immunity
Project Number
: SSPE-CT-2007-044220
Web-site
: www.flupath.eu

Summary:

Highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses (HPAIV) have acquired the unprecedented and alarming capacity to infect humans. By establishing a permanent ecological niche in wild birds, HPAIV will pose a continuous risk for poultry and fatal human infections, especially if these birds excrete HPAIV without showing any clinical signs of disease. These changes in the ecology of the disease and behaviour of the virus may create opportunities for a pandemic virus to emerge.

Attempts to avoid or contain HPAIV outbreaks have been largely unsuccessful. This can be directly linked to our lack of fundamental knowledge. Therefore, it is essential to increase our knowledge of the ecology and pathology of avian influenza virus infections in poultry and other species.

Full understanding of the ecology and pathogenesis of HPAIV requires a multi-disciplinary approach determining host-pathogen interactions and the role played by the host immune response. To this end, the FLUPATH consortium was established.

FLUPATH is composed of 13 partners, six of which are National Reference Laboratories for avian influenza. The consortium further includes five academic institutions and two institutions that specialise in animal science and health. The participants, with expertise in chicken genomics, micro array technology, pathology, receptors, innate immunity and chicken immunology will use multidisciplinary and complementary approaches to address key problems and unanswered questions with respect to the ecology and pathogenesis of avian influenza.

FLUPATH will provide knowledge and tools for new strategies which will be tailored for the control and management of avian influenza at the European and international level. This will limit the impact of the disease both in terms of human health and losses to the poultry industry. The accompanying reduction in animal slaughter and financial and economic losses will place a significantly lower demand on EU and Member States' budgets.

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