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Colds and flu

06 August 2010

What caused the 2009 H1N1 pandemic?

The 2009 H1N1 swine flu virus used a new biochemical trick to hijack host cells, a feat that triggered the recent pandemic, according to an international team of scientists.

The 2009 H1N1 swine flu virus used a new biochemical trick to hijack host cells, a feat that triggered the recent pandemic, according to an international team of scientists.

A typical flu virus requires the presence of two amino acids - lysine and asparagines - in specific sites on a key avian protein in order to jump from an animal and replicate efficiently in human cells.

 

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Flu expert

Dr Heidi van Deventer completed her MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 2004 at the University of Stellenbosch.
She has additional training in ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) and PALS (Paediatric Advanced Life Support) as well as biostatistics and epidemiology.

Dr Van Deventer is currently working as a researcher at the Desmond Tutu Tuberculosis Centre at the University of Stellenbosch.

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