Life establishes international flu network

The Global Influenza Network will use the Ion Personal Genome Machine.--Courtesy of Life Technologies

An unusually widespread flu season--complete with vaccine shortages and high demand--has scientists and vaccine makers working to develop a quickly produced and long-lasting shot. Life Technologies ($LIFE) took a step in this direction with the establishment of the Global Influenza Network.

The network is a partnership of scientists, leading government public health organizations, veterinary agencies and research institutes working to develop a speedy and efficient flu monitoring system and a better vaccine. Participants share data, tools and experience to move toward a common goal.

"Life Technologies exhibited leadership in infectious disease tracking when our scientists worked alongside federal officials to identify the cause of H1N1 outbreak in 2008," said Gregory T. Lucier, chairman and CEO of Life Technologies. "We are very proud to now bring together a group of such distinguished organizations to tackle the continued threat of influenza worldwide."

Using Life's Ion Personal Genome Machine semiconductor sequencing platform, the network will sequence patient samples collected ahead of the flu season to detect emerging strains earlier. Semiconductor sequencing also allows for quicker data collection prior to vaccine production.

"Using next-generation sequencing technology makes whole influenza genome sequencing much easier, and much less expensive than older sequencing techniques, when used appropriately," said Steve Glavas, head of the NGS Platform.

The flu poses concern every year, killing an estimated 3,000 to 49,000 people annually from 1976 to 2007. And the strains evolve seasonally, so health experts and manufacturers worldwide need to match the vaccine to the circulating strain. The Global Influenza Network hopes to speed up and simplify this process.

- read the release

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