Swine Flu Virus Not So New, Study Finds

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The H1N1 swine flu virus may have been new to humanity in many ways but in one key feature its closest relative was the 1918 pandemic virus, researchers reported on Wednesday.

Their findings could point to better ways to design vaccines and help explain why the swine flu pandemic largely spared the elderly.

"This study defines an unexpected similarity between two pandemic-causing strains of influenza," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a statement.

Two studies show an important structure called hemagglutinin is very similar in both the swine flu H1N1 and its distant cousin, the H1N1 virus that caused the 1918 pandemic. Hemagglutinin is used by viruses to infect cells and gives influenza viruses the "H" in their designations.

For one study, published in Science Translational Medicine, Chih-Jen Wei, Gary Nabel and colleagues at NIAID injected mice with a vaccine made using the 1918 influenza virus -- which killed an estimated 40 million to 100 million people.

When they infected the mice with H1N1 swine flu, the vaccinated mice survived, while many unprotected mice died.

The reverse also worked -- when they immunized mice using the 2009 H1N1 virus, and then infected them with the 1918 strain, the mice were protected.

"This is a surprising result," Nabel said. "We wouldn't have expected that cross-reactive antibodies would be generated against viruses separated by so many years."

The team also showed that as flu viruses circulate, they develop a kind of shield called a glycan that protects them from the body's immune system. That may allow them to become regular, seasonal visitors.

"It gives us a new understanding of how pandemic viruses evolve into seasonal strains, and, importantly, provides direction for developing vaccines to slow or prevent that transformation," Fauci said.

Women Outdo Men in Memory Test

A recent study conducted by the University of London has concluded that women possess stronger memory than men. The study examined 9,600 people, each around the age of 50 years. The researchers observed that all the women in middle age had a better memory level than the men.

The first stage of the memory test saw the participants first listening to 10 words then recalling them in next 2 minutes. In the second round the participants were asked to recall the same 10 words, 5 minutes after round 1.

The score of the female participants in the first round was 5% greater than the male ones and 8% greater in the second round.

The research team led by Matthew Brown and Brian Dodgeon took up another test, wherein the participants were asked to name as many animals as they could think of, within one minute. Here, both the male and female participants scored neck to neck. The average number of animal names as listed by them was 22.

"Men performed significantly more poorly in the verbal memory tests: particularly on the delayed memory test", said the lead researchers.

The researchers also observed the affect of health conditions of the participants on their respective memories, concluding that those with better physical fitness yielded better scores.

All these participants were from the National Child Development Study. The researchers kept a track of them since these people were at the age of 16 years and they were observed again when they turned 50.

source: http://topnews.us/content/213259-women-outdo-men-memory-test

H1N1 vaccine: Phases II, III human trials begin today

The Serum Institute of India will begin phase II and III human clinical trials of the nasal spray vaccine against the H1N1 virus at two sites in Pune and three other centres on Monday. The virus has claimed 201 lives in Pune itself.

Dr Prasad Kulkarni, director of clinical trials at the institute, told Newsline on Sunday that they had received the required approval from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI). A total of 330 people in three age groups — paediatric, adult and elderly — will be enrolled for the trial. “Initially, the trial will begin at four centres; We will include two more later.”

The trial sites have been identified at Pune, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Indore, Bangalore and Chennai. A private hospital and a medical college are taking part in the trial in Pune.

The Serum Institute will enroll 300 people for the trial.

Explaining the procedure, an institute official said the vaccine, in the form of an inhalation mix, would be administered in each nostril in doses of 2.5 ml. “Here, the virus is live but weakened (attenuated). It produces immunity but does not cause disease. As it is given intra nasal, it mimics the natural route of infection. It grows in the nasopharynx and produces local immunity followed by systemic immunity.”

Once the intra nasal spray vaccine has been administered, the results will be tested in laboratories at the Serum Institute and National Institute of Virology.

The officials hope to submit the trial data to the DCGI by the second or third week of April.

Kulkarni said the results of the Phase I clinical trial of the injectable vaccine against the HINI virus would be submitted to the DCGI soon.

The Ahmedabad-based Zydus Cadila has also embarked upon the multi-centric Phase II and III clinical trials of the vaccine.

Source: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/h1n1-vaccine-phases-ii-iii-human-trials-begin-today/587951/2