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Future Virol. 2009 Nov 1;4(6):553-561.

Is systems biology the key to preventing the next pandemic?

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  • 1University of Washington, Department of Microbiology, Seattle, WA 98195-8070, USA, Tel.: +1 206 732 6120.

Abstract

Sporadic outbreaks of epizootics including SARS coronavirus and H5N1 avian influenza remind us of the potential for communicable diseases to quickly spread into worldwide epidemics. To confront emerging viral threats, nations have implemented strategies to prepare for pandemics and to control virus spread. Despite improved surveillance and quarantine measures, we find ourselves in the midst of a H1N1 influenza pandemic. Effective therapeutics and vaccines are essential to protect against current and future pandemics. The best route to effective therapeutics and vaccines is through a detailed and global view of virus-host interactions that can be achieved using a systems biology approach. Here, we provide our perspective on the role of systems biology in deepening our understanding of virus-host interactions and in improving drug and vaccine development. We offer examples from influenza virus research, as well as from research on other pandemics of our time - HIV/AIDS and HCV - to demonstrate that systems biology offers one possible key to stopping the cycle of viral pandemics.

PMID:
20352075
PMCID:
PMC2843927
DOI:
10.2217/fvl.09.53
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