02 June 2009
By Umesh Isalkar
The NIV scientists have come to this conclusion after decoding the genetic structure of the virus using DNA sequencing.
The genetic blueprint of H1N1, cases of which have been reported in more than 22 countries, will provide important information for researchers studying the virus, and could lead to finding its cure.
“Seventy per cent decoding of the genetic structure of the virus has been done so far and the rest will be finished within a week,” NIV director A C Mishra told TOI on Monday.
The decoding work was initiated soon after the scientists managed to grow the virus in the continuous MDCK cell lines as well as in embryonated chicken eggs. “The human influenza virus grows best in MDCK cell lines,” said Mishra.
Further Tests on to Decode H1N1
Certain cell lines, like MDCK (Madin Darby Canine Kidney) cell lines, are called “Continuous” because they can be passaged indefinitely without a change in properties. Passaging is the process where a small number of cells from an existing tissue culture is used to seed a new tissue culture; something similar to creating a daughter cell from a parent cell. Once subcultured or passaged repeatedly, a cell culture becomes a ‘cell line’.
Asked about the future course of action, Mishra said, “After complete decoding of the genetic structure of the virus, we plan to conduct experiments in different cell lines and animal models to test how virulent the H1N1 virus is. The experiments will also help us understand the pathogenesis of the virus and the possible complications it may lead to.”
“The future course of the disease will give us some direction about the type of vaccine to be developed in future,” said Mishra.
City–based consulting microbiologist Siddhartha Dalvi said, “Once the genetic structure of the deadly H1N1 flu virus is cracked, it will help scientists identify where it originated from and reveal how it is spreading and how it mutates.” According to scientists, decoding the genetic sequence will now allow the development of faster and more accurate tests and also help create more effective component vaccines. They can also be used to produce antibodies for the treatment of severely–ill influenza patients, Dalvi said.