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gain-of-function flu research – what is it for?

We’ve heard about lab experiments on influenza that mutate the virus to investigate how genetic changes could alter how infectious or deadly it is. But what are these gain-of-function experiments, how and where are they conducted, and what have we learned from them so far?

 

A group of experts came to the SMC to discuss aspects including:

  • what does gain-of-function mean, and which functions are gained?
  • how are viruses mutated?
  • which viruses are researched in this way?
  • how are they contained in the lab?
  • is there information about these viruses which only this type of research can tell us?
  • how are risks managed?

 

Speakers:

Dr Michael Skinner, Senior Lecturer in Virology, Imperial College London

Prof Wendy Barclay, Chair in Influenza Virology, Imperial College London

Dr John McCauley, Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Influenza, MRC National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR)

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