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Concept: Orthomyxoviridae


Influenza is a severe disease in humans and animals with few effective therapies available. All strains of influenza virus are prone to developing drug resistance due to the high mutation rate in the viral genome. A therapeutic agent that targets a highly conserved region of the virus could bypass resistance and also be effective against multiple strains of influenza. Influenza uses many individually weak ligand-binding interactions for a high-avidity multivalent attachment to sialic acid-bearing cells. Polymerized sialic acid analogs can form multivalent interactions with influenza, but are not ideal therapeutics due to solubility and toxicity issues. We used liposomes as a novel means for delivery of the glycan sialylneolacto-N-tetraose c (LSTc). LSTc-bearing decoy liposomes form multivalent, polymer-like interactions with influenza virus. Decoy liposomes competitively bind influenza virus in hemagglutination inhibition assays and inhibit infection of target cells in a dose-dependent manner. Inhibition is specific for influenza virus, as inhibition of Sendai virus and respiratory syncytial virus is not observed. In contrast, monovalent LSTc does not bind influenza virus or inhibit infectivity. LSTc decoy liposomes prevent the spread of influenza virus during multiple rounds of replication in vitro and extend survival of mice challenged with a lethal dose of virus. LSTc decoy liposomes co-localize with fluorescently tagged influenza virus, while control liposomes do not. Considering the conservation of the hemagglutinin binding pocket and the ability of decoy liposomes to form high avidity interactions with influenza hemagglutinin, our decoy liposomes have potential as a new therapeutic agent against emerging influenza strains.

Concepts: Microbiology, Sialic acid, Therapy, Influenza, Human respiratory syncytial virus, Orthomyxoviridae, Influenza A virus, Influenzavirus A


T-705 (Favipiravir) is a broad-spectrum antiviral molecule currently in late stage clinical development for the treatment of influenza virus infection. Although it is believed that T-705 potency is mediated by its ribofuranosyl triphosphate (T-705 RTP) metabolite that could be mutagenic, the exact molecular interaction with the polymerase of influenza A virus (IAVpol) has not been elucidated. Here, we developed a biochemical assay to measure the kinetics of nucleotide incorporation by IAVpol in the elongation mode. In this assay, T-705 RTP was recognized by IAVpol as an efficient substrate for incorporation to the RNA both as a guanosine and an adenosine analog. Compared to natural GTP and ATP, the discrimination of T-705 RTP was about 19- and 30-fold, respectively. Although the single incorporation of the ribonucleotide monophosphate form of T-705 did not efficiently block RNA synthesis, two consecutive incorporation events prevented further primer extension. In comparison, 3'-deoxy GTP caused immediate chain termination but was incorporated less efficiently by the enzyme, with a discrimination of 4,900-fold relative to natural GTP. Collectively, these results provide the first detailed biochemical characterization to evaluate the substrate efficiency and the inhibition potency of nucleotide analogs against influenza virus polymerase. The combination of ambiguous base-pairing with low discrimination of T-705 RTP provides a mechanistic basis for the in vitro mutagenic effect of T-705 towards influenza virus.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Molecular biology, Adenosine triphosphate, Virus, RNA, Influenza, Orthomyxoviridae


Background Acute myocardial infarction can be triggered by acute respiratory infections. Previous studies have suggested an association between influenza and acute myocardial infarction, but those studies used nonspecific measures of influenza infection or study designs that were susceptible to bias. We evaluated the association between laboratory-confirmed influenza infection and acute myocardial infarction. Methods We used the self-controlled case-series design to evaluate the association between laboratory-confirmed influenza infection and hospitalization for acute myocardial infarction. We used various high-specificity laboratory methods to confirm influenza infection in respiratory specimens, and we ascertained hospitalization for acute myocardial infarction from administrative data. We defined the “risk interval” as the first 7 days after respiratory specimen collection and the “control interval” as 1 year before and 1 year after the risk interval. Results We identified 364 hospitalizations for acute myocardial infarction that occurred within 1 year before and 1 year after a positive test result for influenza. Of these, 20 (20.0 admissions per week) occurred during the risk interval and 344 (3.3 admissions per week) occurred during the control interval. The incidence ratio of an admission for acute myocardial infarction during the risk interval as compared with the control interval was 6.05 (95% confidence interval [CI], 3.86 to 9.50). No increased incidence was observed after day 7. Incidence ratios for acute myocardial infarction within 7 days after detection of influenza B, influenza A, respiratory syncytial virus, and other viruses were 10.11 (95% CI, 4.37 to 23.38), 5.17 (95% CI, 3.02 to 8.84), 3.51 (95% CI, 1.11 to 11.12), and 2.77 (95% CI, 1.23 to 6.24), respectively. Conclusions We found a significant association between respiratory infections, especially influenza, and acute myocardial infarction. (Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and others.).

Concepts: Myocardial infarction, Atherosclerosis, Virus, Influenza, Transmission and infection of H5N1, Troponin, Human respiratory syncytial virus, Orthomyxoviridae


We assessed vaccine effectiveness (VE) against medically attended, laboratory-confirmed influenza in children 6 months to 15 years of age in 22 hospitals in Japan during the 2013-14 season. Our study was conducted according to a test-negative case-control design based on influenza rapid diagnostic test (IRDT) results. Outpatients who came to our clinics with a fever of 38°C or over and had undergone an IRDT were enrolled in this study. Patients with positive IRDT results were recorded as cases, and patients with negative results were recorded as controls. Between November 2013 and March 2014, a total of 4727 pediatric patients (6 months to 15 years of age) were enrolled: 876 were positive for influenza A, 66 for A(H1N1)pdm09 and in the other 810 the subtype was unknown; 1405 were positive for influenza B; and 2445 were negative for influenza. Overall VE was 46% (95% confidence interval [CI], 39-52). Adjusted VE against influenza A, influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, and influenza B was 63% (95% CI, 56-69), 77% (95% CI, 59-87), and 26% (95% CI, 14-36), respectively. Influenza vaccine was not effective against either influenza A or influenza B in infants 6 to 11 months of age. Two doses of influenza vaccine provided better protection against influenza A infection than a single dose did. VE against hospitalization influenza A infection was 76%. Influenza vaccine was effective against influenza A, especially against influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, but was much less effective against influenza B.

Concepts: Hospital, Vaccine, Physician, Influenza, Influenza pandemic, Fever, Influenza vaccine, Orthomyxoviridae


Influenza activity in the United States began to increase in early November 2017 and rose sharply from December through February 3, 2018; elevated influenza activity is expected to continue for several more weeks. Influenza A viruses have been most commonly identified, with influenza A(H3N2) viruses predominating, but influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 and influenza B viruses were also reported. This report summarizes U.S. influenza activity* during October 1, 2017-February 3, 2018,†and updates the previous summary (1).

Concepts: United States, Influenza, Poverty in the United States, U.S. state, World Health Organization, Humid subtropical climate, Orthomyxoviridae, Public transport


This report summarizes U.S. influenza activity* during October 2, 2016-February 4, 2017,(†) and updates the previous summary (1). Influenza activity in the United States began to increase in mid-December, remained elevated through February 4, 2017, and is expected to continue for several more weeks. To date, influenza A (H3N2) viruses have predominated overall, but influenza A (H1N1)pdm09 and influenza B viruses have also been identified.

Concepts: United States, Influenza, Poverty in the United States, U.S. state, World Health Organization, Humid subtropical climate, Orthomyxoviridae, Public transport


Background Commonly used trivalent vaccines contain one influenza B virus lineage and may be ineffective against viruses of the other B lineage. We evaluated the efficacy of a candidate inactivated quadrivalent influenza vaccine (QIV) containing both B lineages. Methods In this multinational, phase 3, observer-blinded study, we randomly assigned children 3 to 8 years of age, in a 1:1 ratio, to receive the QIV or a hepatitis A vaccine (control). The primary end point was influenza A or B confirmed by real-time polymerase chain reaction (rt-PCR). Secondary end points were rt-PCR-confirmed, moderate-to-severe influenza and rt-PCR-positive, culture-confirmed influenza. The vaccine efficacy and the effect of vaccination on daily activities and utilization of health care resources were assessed in the total vaccinated cohort (2584 children in each group) and the per-protocol cohort (2379 children in the QIV group and 2398 in the control group). Results In the total vaccinated cohort, 62 children in the QIV group (2.40%) and 148 in the control group (5.73%) had rt-PCR-confirmed influenza, representing a QIV efficacy of 59.3% (95% confidence interval [CI], 45.2 to 69.7), with efficacy against culture-confirmed influenza of 59.1% (97.5% CI, 41.2 to 71.5). For moderate-to-severe rt-PCR-confirmed influenza, the attack rate was 0.62% (16 cases) in the QIV group and 2.36% (61 cases) in the control group, representing a QIV efficacy of 74.2% (97.5% CI, 51.5 to 86.2). In the per-protocol cohort, the QIV efficacy was 55.4% (95% CI, 39.1 to 67.3), and the efficacy against culture-confirmed influenza 55.9% (97.5% CI, 35.4 to 69.9); the efficacy among children with moderate-to-severe influenza was 73.1% (97.5% CI, 47.1 to 86.3). The QIV was associated with reduced risks of a body temperature above 39°C and lower respiratory tract illness, as compared with the control vaccine, in the per-protocol cohort (relative risk, 0.29 [95% CI, 0.16 to 0.56] and 0.20 [95% CI, 0.04 to 0.92], respectively). The QIV was immunogenic against all four strains. Serious adverse events occurred in 36 children in the QIV group (1.4%) and in 24 children in the control group (0.9%). Conclusions The QIV was efficacious in preventing influenza in children. (Funded by GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals; number, NCT01218308 .).

Concepts: Clinical trial, Vaccine, Vaccination, Influenza, Respiratory system, Influenza vaccine, Orthomyxoviridae


During May 21-September 23, 2017,* the United States experienced low-level seasonal influenza virus activity; however, beginning in early September, CDC received reports of a small number of localized influenza outbreaks caused by influenza A(H3N2) viruses. In addition to influenza A(H3N2) viruses, influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 and influenza B viruses were detected during May-September worldwide and in the United States. Influenza B viruses predominated in the United States from late May through late June, and influenza A viruses predominated beginning in early July. The majority of the influenza viruses collected and received from the United States and other countries during that time have been characterized genetically or antigenically as being similar to the 2017 Southern Hemisphere and 2017-18 Northern Hemisphere cell-grown vaccine reference viruses; however, a smaller proportion of the circulating A(H3N2) viruses showed similarity to the egg-grown A(H3N2) vaccine reference virus which represents the A(H3N2) viruses used for the majority of vaccine production in the United States. Also, during May 21-September 23, 2017, CDC confirmed a total of 33 influenza variant virus(†) infections; two were influenza A(H1N2) variant (H1N2v) viruses (Ohio) and 31 were influenza A(H3N2) variant (H3N2v) viruses (Delaware [1], Maryland [13], North Dakota [1], Pennsylvania [1], and Ohio [15]). An additional 18 specimens from Maryland have tested presumptive positive for H3v and further analysis is being conducted at CDC.

Concepts: Virus, United States, Influenza, U.S. state, Season, Pacific Ocean, Orthomyxoviridae, Southern Hemisphere


Aquatic birds harbor diverse influenza A viruses and are a major viral reservoir in nature. The recent discovery of influenza viruses of a new H17N10 subtype in Central American fruit bats suggests that other New World species may similarly carry divergent influenza viruses. Using consensus degenerate RT-PCR, we identified a novel influenza A virus, designated as H18N11, in a flat-faced fruit bat (Artibeus planirostris) from Peru. Serologic studies with the recombinant H18 protein indicated that several Peruvian bat species were infected by this virus. Phylogenetic analyses demonstrate that, in some gene segments, New World bats harbor more influenza virus genetic diversity than all other mammalian and avian species combined, indicative of a long-standing host-virus association. Structural and functional analyses of the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase indicate that sialic acid is not a ligand for virus attachment nor a substrate for release, suggesting a unique mode of influenza A virus attachment and activation of membrane fusion for entry into host cells. Taken together, these findings indicate that bats constitute a potentially important and likely ancient reservoir for a diverse pool of influenza viruses.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Evolution, Microbiology, Virus, Influenza, Orthomyxoviridae, Influenza A virus


Influenza A virus (IAV) neuraminidase (NA) cleaves sialic acids (Sias) from glycans. Inhibiting NA with oseltamivir suppresses both viral infection, and viral release from cultured human airway epithelial cells. The role of NA in viral exit is well established: it releases budding virions by cleaving Sias from glycoconjugates on infected cells and progeny virions. The role of NA in viral entry remains unclear. Host respiratory epithelia secrete a mucus layer rich in heavily sialylated glycoproteins; these could inhibit viral entry by mimicking sialylated receptors on the cell surface. It has been suggested that NA allows influenza to penetrate the mucus by cleaving these sialylated decoys, but the exact mechanism is not yet established.

Concepts: Protein, Microbiology, Virus, Infection, Influenza, Respiratory epithelium, Mucus, Orthomyxoviridae