In recognition of the rapid genetic and antigenic evolution of highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses of the H5 subtype, investigators from the University of Cambridge, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam are studying antigenic change of H5 viruses globally.
To this end, the consortium periodically makes use of genome sequence data shared through the GISAID Initiative, to generate synthetic hemagglutinin constructs to produce recombinant H5 viruses and H5-specific ferret antisera. Antigenic characterization is then performed with the hemagglutination inhibition assay and the resulting data is used to build so called 'antigenic maps' to represent all H5 viruses that have circulated from 1997 to the present day, providing critical information to stakeholders around the globe, for example for the design of vaccines for humans or poultry.
The antigenic maps will be published with open access to the public. The synthetic hemagglutinin constructs, reverse genetics viruses and antisera will be shared with the laboratories that contributed the genome sequence data to GISAID. Reagents may also be provided to other researchers, including National Influenza Centers and global reference laboratories, upon assurance that the originating laboratory, where the clinical specimen or virus isolate was first obtained, and the submitting laboratory, where sequence data have been generated and submitted through the GISAID mechanism, are fully recognized, to ensure fair attribution of contributions to the results benefitting from the data.
The investigators wish to thank the governments and scientists of Cambodia, China, Egypt, Ghana, Indonesia, Nepal, Russia, Vietnam for their contributions that made this research possible.
For further information please visit:
Centre for Pathogen Evolution at the University of Cambridge
Molecular Virology and Virus Evolution at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam
School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin