News FocusPandemic Influenza

Straight From the Pig's Mouth: Swine Research With Swine Influenzas

Science  10 Jul 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5937, pp. 140-141
DOI: 10.1126/science.325_140

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Summary

Pig studies have taken on a new cachet because of the swine origins of the 2009 A(H1N1) strain that's causing the current pandemic—and the pig flu research community's eerily prescient predictions that something like it was bound to make headway in humans. Human influenza researchers, who mainly work with ferrets and mice as models, have turned up provocative findings about the new virus in a remarkably short time. Yet the veterinarians who do most of the flu studies with pigs, primarily to help pig farmers, are well placed to make a unique contribution. They know the closest relatives of the novel H1N1 virus intimately, and their studies are offering critical clues to its genetic origins as well as sobering insights about how it may evolve.