In this issue


Microbiology Australia Microbiology Australia
Issue 4

Vertical Transmission, November 2006

I have just returned from holidays, during which I reflected on how wonderful it was to be a microbiologist. I visited the geothermal areas in the Yellowstone National Park in the USA and saw the most fantastic bacterial mats ? deep reds, bright greens and yellows with intricate patterns and swirls surrounding the boiling water, mud and geysers.

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The influenza conundrum

We live in an age of great erudition with respect to the structure and replication of influenza viruses. We have much insight as to the immunology and pathogenicity of influenza viruses from studies in mice (albeit largely of viruses that are very different from contemporary epidemic strains). Knowledge of the crystalline structure of the two surface glycoproteins, the haemagglutinin and the neuraminidase, has facilitated considerable understanding of the mechanisms of antigenic variability and has allowed the development of neuraminidase inhib...

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Strengthening Australia?s WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza

During the coming year, the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza (the Centre) will relocate to new facilities at the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory?s (VIDRL) North Melbourne site. There it will expand both in size and in the scope of its activities. This is an exciting opportunity to bring together and build on the complementary strengths of two leading laboratories. A strong revitalised Centre will be key to the management of seasonal and potential pandemic influenza, as well as other emerging re...

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Reverse genetics of influenza viruses

Reverse genetics for generation of influenza viruses is a powerful tool allowing for the direct manipulation of the genome of viruses. It has the potential to allow for the generation of safer and more immunogenic vaccines and for a better understanding of the virus replication cycle. Reverse genetics is essential tool for producing a vaccine against the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus.

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Development of an Australian pandemic vaccine

Although influenza pandemics have plagued mankind for centuries, a pandemic resulting from the current H5N1 threat would be a unique experience in many ways. Greater awareness and increased surveillance have allowed us to watch events unfolding and have facilitated early detection and containment of disease episodes. Well developed strategies for containment and availability of the antiviral drugs Relenza and Tamiflu for both therapy and prophylaxis further strengthen our capabilities in retarding development of a pandemic and give us hope of a...

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Influenza: achievements and challenges An historical snapshot

I have worked with influenza over a period of 40 years and, with each passing year, I have become more aware of its impact and more intrigued by the fascinating biology and natural history of the causative viruses. Influenza wasn?t my first experience in virology, having worked initially in a poliomyelitis vaccine R&D programme following the introduction of Salk vaccine into Australia by Val Bazeley. I had something of a jaundiced view when my next project was to assist in applying the virus dissociation methods of Laver & Webster to the produ...

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Influenza diagnosis and management

Influenza is already an important cause of illness and death each year in Australia and the impact of future pandemics will be many times greater. Compared with other respiratory viral illnesses, influenza is more severe in itself as well as being more likely to result in complications. These range from milder conditions such as otitis media and sinusitis to acute bronchitis, viral pneumonia and bacterial pneumonia. There are also a number of less common non-respiratory complications, including myocarditis, encephalitis, rhabdomyolysis and neph...

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Antivirals for treatment and prevention of human seasonal influenza

While immunisation is the primary public health strategy for prevention of influenza, antivirals are important complementary measures for controlling seasonal/epidemic human influenza, especially when there is a mismatch between circulating and vaccine strains and in at-risk population groups.

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Determinants of immunity to influenza

Neutralising antibody is by far the best protection against influenza virus but, in its absence, do we have any other types of immune counter-measures that can be heightened or exploited to protect us against newly emerging and potentially highly virulent influenza strains?

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Avian influenza in South East Asia

Since the H5N1 virus first appeared in China in 1996, it has undergone dramatic evolution, both genetically and in its biological properties. This article discusses the evolution of H5N1 and the paradigm shift that has occurred in our understanding of the ecology and biology of avian influenza viruses as a result of the H5N1 experience.

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Regulatory issues in pandemic influenza vaccine development

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is responsible for the licensing of vaccines used in Australia. This includes pre-market evaluation aspects (such as assessing the quality, efficacy and safety of vaccines) and post-market aspects (such as batch release testing and the monitoring of adverse reactions). For inter-pandemic and pandemic influenza vaccines, TGA is also involved in the selection of appropriate vaccine viruses and the calibration and supply of reagents for the production of influenza vaccines. Together with industry, TGA has...

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A new look at influenza vaccination

Since the first influenza vaccine was licensed over 50 years ago, vaccination has consistently demonstrated its health benefits in preventing influenza and influenza vaccination is playing an increasingly important role in public health programmes in many countries. Individuals for whom vaccination is most commonly recommended include elderly persons over 65 years of age, persons with high risk medical conditions and children.

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The origins of pandemic influenza ? a perspective

Following the isolation of the first human influenza virus in 1933, there have been two Type A influenza pandemics. One was the Asian influenza pandemic in 1957, when an H2N2 virus replaced the H1N1 viruses then circulating, and the other was in 1968 when the Hong Kong H3N2 virus replaced the H2N2 viruses. The H1N1 virus that re-emerged in 1977 did cause a worldwide epidemic (or pandemic) but this virus is not considered by many people to be a true ?pandemic? virus.

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Pandemic planning: the Australian response

If the world comes face to face with a rapidly spreading novel virus like the one that emerged in 1918, then the rapid detection of human to human transmission, early and intensive implementation of containment measures, and the development and deployment of effective vaccine are our best strategy for responding.

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News, November 2006

ARC Centre of Excellence in Structural and Functional Microbial Genomics

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ASM Affairs, November 2006

Laboratory Leadership and Management SIG; Virology ? Division 2; Mycobacteria SIG

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New vaccines and therapeutic antibodies from yeast

This year has seen another leap in the power of yeast to meet major pharmaceutical needs. One was the topic of the closing address by Prof Ian Frazer at the ASM?s Annual Scientific Meeting at the Gold Coast. That address discussed the major worldwide problem of human papilloma virus (HPV) infection, especially in young women. More importantly, he described the cure ? prevention by vaccination with the major capsid protein (L1) of HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18.

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