San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 05/03/2012 -- Robert Webster, Rose Marie Thomas Chair, Infectious Diseases, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital will be giving a keynote presentation entitled “H5N1 Influenza-Has the Threat Been Overblown?” at the Influenza Research and Development Conference on July 9th-10th, 2012 in San Francisco, CA by GTC.
Live poultry markets were the source of the initial human H5N1 cases in Hong Kong. The highly pathogenic H5N1 influenza virus has spread to over 63 countries in Eurasia and continues to evolve. Multiple clades and subclades continue to emerge in the regions where the highly pathogenic H5N1 viruses have become endemic including Egypt, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Southeast Asia. The H5N1 viruses of particular concern are the clade 126.96.36.199 that has been isolated from wild birds in multiple regions of Eurasia. While the highly pathogenic H5N1 viruses that arose over a decade ago in Southern China have, to date infected 597 persons and killed 351 the virus has not acquired the ability to spread consistently from human to human. There is a growing sense of complacency that since H5N1 has not achieved human to human transmissibility in over 15 years that it is unlikely to do so. It would be prudent to remember that it took H1N1 nearly 100 years (1918-2009) to achieve pandemic potential.
The key unanswered questions include:
-Is highly pathogenic Asian H5N1 (clade 188.8.131.52) being perpetuated in wild aquatic birds and changing the established paradigm.
-Will the highly pathogenic H5N1 viruses acquire high transmissibility in mammals?
Highlights of the talk will include:
1) An underappreciated threat to human and animal health
2) Pandemic preparedness alert
3) Need for adjuvant use in vaccines
4) Need for continued surveillance
5) The 'pipe dream' of a universal vaccine
Robert G. Webster, PhD holds the Rose Marie Thomas Chair in the Department of Infectious Diseases at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital where he participates in the Center of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance and has served as an advisor to industry and government on the issues concerning vaccines, antivirals and biosafety of emerging infectious diseases including H5N1 influenza. He was intimately involved understanding the emergence and control of H5N1 in Hong Kong and the genesis of the Centers of Excellence for Influenza program. He is a member of The Royal Society of London, the National Academy of Sciences of the United States and an honorary member of The Royal Society of New Zealand.
Dr. Webster’s interests include the emergence and control of influenza viruses, viral immunology, the structure and function of influenza virus proteins and the development of new vaccines and antivirals. Together with Graeme Laver he developed one of the first subunit vaccines for influenza that is still being produced in Australia. The major focus of his research is the importance of influenza viruses in wild aquatic birds as a major reservoir of influenza viruses and their role in the evolution of new pandemic strains for humans and lower animals.
His curriculum vita contains over 600 original articles and reviews on influenza viruses. He has trained many scientists who now contribute to our understanding of the evolution and pathogenesis of influenza.
GTC’s Influenza Research & Development is a two-day conference that will be held at the San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront. This conference will cover various aspects of basic research in influenza including correlates of protection, the role of t-cells in influenza, immunity to influenza, antibodies, adjuvants and vaccination. Topics such as the current threat of the H5N1 virus and updates on the universal influenza vaccine will be covered by key academic researchers and leaders of the industry. Additionally, government representatives from BARDA, FDA and the USAID will discuss regulatory and government policies for vaccinations in conjunction with our 10th Vaccines Research and Development: All Things Considered Conference.
For more information, please visit Influenza Research and Development or http://www.gtcbio.com
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