Scientists join forces to thwart growing threat of avian flu

Published: 25 May 2007

Glasgow University is at the forefront of efforts to prevent avian flu pandemic

A unique centre of excellence is to be at the forefront of global efforts to prevent an avian flu pandemic.

The £4.3m research hub ヨ the first of its kind in Britain ヨ draws together experts from the Universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and St Andrews who will aim to develop new therapeutic agents to combat this growing public health threat.

As well seeking to tackle avian flu, leading biologists, virologists and epidemiologists will also work together on new treatments for human flu.

The new Interdisciplinary Centre for Human and Avian Influenza Research (ICHAIR), which has received £2million from the Scottish Funding Council and £2.3m from the collaborating universities, will officially open on 1 September 2007.

The centre will focus on three broad areas of research:

● Mathematical modelling ヨ scientists will use supercomputers to predict changes in the virulence of the virus and to create models of outbreak scenarios

● Pathogenesis ヨ experts will carry out research into the causes of the disease and the underlying factors that lead to its spread

● Infection control ヨ researchers will develop a range of 'novel' anti-virals (which can block virus replication) and construct a new generation of flu vaccines.

The centre opens as the threat of a pandemic grows: millions of birds have been slaughtered worldwide and there have been over 170 human deaths from the H5N1 strain. In at least one case, there is enough evidence to show that human-to-human transmission has already occurred.

Ray McHugh (

First published: 25 May 2007

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