Researchers are developing new strategies for therapies and vaccines to combat influenza.
By understanding the complex host cell pathways used by flu to evolve from one form to another, it is hoped that the effectiveness of vaccines and anti-viral drugs can be improved.
A study at the University of Georgia has investigated RNA interference to determine the host genes used for virus replication, which occurs when influenza binds itself to sugars found on cells in the lung and respiratory tract.
Dr Ralph Tripp, co-author of the study, explained: "Because virus replication is dependent on host cell components, determining the genes needed for this process allows for the development of novel disease intervention strategies that include anti-virals and vaccines."
There is currently the technology in existence to target specific genes in human cells and silence them to prevent virus replication.
The UK is one of the best prepared countries in the world for a flu epidemic.
Secretary of state Andrew Lansley explained that good communication, preparation and relationship building between health and social care professionals is key for limiting and controlling the impact of flu.
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