ISTC Supports International Research on the Human Influenza Virus
The recent outbreak of a new strain of human influenza virus H1N1 also referred to as “Swine Flu” has drawn the attention of health agencies around the globe including the World Health Organization. Because new strains of human influenza can spread rapidly and have the potential to cause great loss of life, e.g., the so-called Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918 caused between 40 to 100 million deaths, scientists have been working for decades to better understand the influenza virus. Since inception in 1994, ISTC has worked with a number of international governments and partners on projects related to the worldwide study of influenza virus and its spread, and a new ISTC Partner project, funded by the US Department of Agriculture / Agricultural Research Service (USDA/ARS), has recently started. USDA/ARS writes:
“Starting May 1, 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service Office of International Research Programs (ARS-OIRP) is funding a new collaborative research project with Russia through the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) to learn more about the basic virology of influenza A viruses and the role of swine in the ecology of these viruses (ISTC # 3940). The recent emergence of the swine-like human influenza virus that contain novel genes from swine, human, and avian sources demonstrates the need for such projects. This knowledge will be applied towards the development of improved vaccines and diagnostics with the overall goal of lessening the economic impact of this virus on pork producers and the potential for human infection. ARS scientists from the National Animal Disease Center in Ames, IA (Kelly Lager, Amy Vincent, and Marcus Kehrli) developed this proposal with scientists from NARVAC R&D, which is a part of the Ivanovskiy Virology Institute in Moscow, and the Russian Research Institute of Veterinary Virology and Microbiology, Pokrov. This project is funded under the ARS-OIRP – Former Soviet Union program and is enabling ARS scientists to extend their ongoing swine influenza research program by interacting with Russian scientists who already have experience with influenza A virus research.”
In addition to this new Partner project, USDA/ARS has funded via ISTC a number of other influenza related projects: ISTC Project #2800 “Influenza A Viruses of Pigs and Birds: Interaction of Two Populations”; ISTC Project #3005 “Detection and Characterization of Newly Emerged Newcastle Disease and Avian Influenza Viruses”; ISTC Project #3460 “Inactivated Vaccines against Avian Viral Diseases”; and ISTC Project #K-747 “Phylogenetic analysis of Central Asia isolates of avian influenza and Newcastle Disease viruses and enhancing avian virus vaccination protocols using new techniques”.
The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.
ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.