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Predictive Analysis of the Human Influenza Virus

CDS members associated with the project: Prof. Dr. Michael Lässig

The human flu virus undergoes fast evolution driven by the challenge of its host immune system. Due to its impact on human health, influenza is one of the best-surveilled human pathogens. In recent years, sequence data have become available from several thousand strains sampled worldwide, and the interactions of these viruses with our immune systems are continuously monitored. From these data, Michael Lässig and his working group have developed fitness models that forecast influenza evolution over periods of one year. The evolutionary predictions are based on real-time tracking of sequence and immunological data, which are updated daily. Using dedicated high-performance computational resources at UoC’s Regional Computing Centre, the data are analysed for viral fitness and future evolutionary paths. These predictions have a dual purpose: to detect the variants of the virus with highest evolutionary advance at an early stage and to inform the updating of influenza vaccines. Dr. Lässig is a regular consultant of the World Health Organization in the influenza vaccine strain selection process.