Recombinomics Inc. Predicts a New Genetic Change in the H5N1 (Avian Flu) Virus

Feb 17, 2006, 00:00 ET from Recombinomics Inc.

    PITTSBURGH, Feb. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Recombinomics is issuing a new
 prediction and warning of a likely alteration in the avian influenza H5N1
 hemagglutinin gene.  Like the warning/prediction issued on October 22nd, 2005,
 this new alteration will increase the virus' affinity for human receptors and
 lead to more efficient transmission of H5N1 to humans.  The company has
 notified the WHO of its prediction and warning regarding the near term
 likelihood of this genetic alteration occurring.
     In October, Recombinomic's prediction/warning was based upon H5N1 entering
 the Middle East via migratory birds, where another avian influenza, H9N2 was
 endemic.  Recombinomics, utilizing its patent pending approach, predicted that
 the H gene in H5N1 would exchange genetic information with the H gene in H9N2
 and would acquire the genetic change S227N (also called S223N).  This
 alteration had been previously shown to increase the affinity of H5N1 for
 human receptors. In late December 2005, the first human infections by the
 Qinghai strain of H5N1 were reported in Turkey.  S227N was detected in the
 index case for that outbreak with six additional cases confirmed four of whom
 died.
     Today, Recombinomics is predicting a similar change in the adjacent
 position of the H5N1 virus' receptor binding domain.  The donor sequences are
 again on the H, but in H1N1 European swine sequences. The new genetic change,
 G228S, has also been previously shown to increase the affinity for human
 receptors.  Like H9N2 in the Middle East, H1N1 is endemic in swine populations
 in Europe.  Infection by H5N1 in H1N1 infected swine will allow the viruses to
 exchange genetic information via recombination and allow H5N1 to acquire
 S228N.  The region of identity between H5N1 and H1N1 is downstream from the
 S227N position, so H5N1, with and without the S227N change, can acquire this
 new sequence.  This sequence acquisition by the H5N1 virus will also lead to
 more efficient transmission to humans.
     "H5N1 is migrating into areas where it is encountering unique influenza
 sero-types it has not encountered while largely confined to Asia over the past
 few years.  This expanded geographical reach allows H5N1 to exchange genetic
 material with novel donor sequences, which under the appropriate selection
 pressures, enables the genetic changes to become fixed in the genome of the
 virus.  H5N1 is in the process of acquiring genetic information that allows
 for more efficient infections of humans", said Recombinomics President, Dr,
 Henry Niman.
     H5N1, like most rapidly evolving viruses, uses homologous recombination to
 create novel genes that enhance the ability of the virus to evolve and remain
 competitively viable.  Recombinomics' proprietary approach predicts these
 changes and identifies novel gene targets for new vaccines, which in turn
 allows manufacturers to develop vaccine in advance of the emergence of new
 genetically altered, and potentially pandemic viral strains.
 
     About Recombinomics, Inc. -- The Company was founded by Dr. Henry Niman, a
 former Scripps Institute Assistant Member, based on his pioneering work in the
 area of viral evolution.   Dr. Niman's research identified recombination as
 the underlying mechanism driving rapid genetic change, allowing him to file a
 series of patents based on a deep understanding of this paradigm shifting
 process. Recombinomics is in the process of commercializing its patent-pending
 approach to significantly improve the standard vaccine development process.
 Recombinomics, through its analysis and commentary section of its website
 (http://www.recombinomics.com ), has been consistently ahead of both the
 scientific community and government agencies in anticipating the genetic
 evolution and geographic expansion of H5N1.
 
      Contact Information:
 
      Dr. Henry Niman
      President
      Recombinomics, Inc.
      648 Field Club Road,
      Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15238
      Tel. 866.973.2662
      henry_niman@recombinomics.com
 
      Web Site: http://www.recombinomics.com
 
 

SOURCE Recombinomics Inc.