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Subject 1918 flu virus's secrets revealed
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Original Message An experiment to reconstruct the deadly 1918 flu virus has given a new insight into how the infection took hold.
Scientists discovered a severe immune system reaction was triggered when mice were infected with the recreated virus.

The US team believe the extreme immune response could have provoked the body to begin killing its own cells, making the flu even deadlier.

The study, published in Nature, may aid the hunt for new treatments. The 1918 pandemic took about 50 million lives.

The devastating infection, which is thought to have originated in birds, left young adults worst hit.

Scientists in the US have reconstructed the H1N1 virus in a bid to better understand how it became such an effective killer - and to also bolster knowledge in the face of current H5N1 bird flu threat.

The researchers infected mice with the recreated influenza virus.

Through functional genomic analysis they discovered that the mice's immune systems responded fiercely to the infection and remained active until the animals' deaths several days later.

At the same time, the animals also suffered the severe lung disease that is characteristic of the virus.

[link to news.bbc.co.uk]
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