A transgenic mouse has been developed by researchers in Germany with the aim of identifying new influenza virus strains that have the possibility to cause a global pandemic.
When influenza A viruses are transmitted from birds, pigs, or other animal species to humans, they can cause devastating pandemics. Influenza strains must attain mutations to be able to cross the species barrier and launch themselves at the human population. These mutations enable them to possible evade the innate immune protein MxA and definitely other components of the human immune system. The MxA protein protects cultured human cells from avian influenza viruses but is unfortunately not effective against strains that have developed the capacity to infect humans.
Peter Staeheli and his colleagues at the Institute of Virology, Medical Center University of Freiburg set out to determine if MxA provides a comparable barrier to cross-species infection in vivo.
To achieve this, they opted not to create …