Computer-Aided influenza virus vaccine created

Stony Brook University biologists and computer scientists announced recently that they have used a novel approach to weaken the influenza virus.

The computer-aided approach essentially designed hundreds of mutations to the virus’s genetic code to create a working vaccine, reports. Researchers published the results of the study in the July issue of Nature Biotechnology.

The current research was based on previous research led by Eckard Wimmer, distinguished professor for Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at Stony Brook, in 2002. In that study, Wimmer synthesized poliovirus, which marked the first artificial synthesis of any virus.

The researchers told that viruses weakened by traditional means usually make effective vaccines. These viruses, however, sometimes mutate to regain virulence. The creation of synthetic viruses, according to the researchers, nearly eliminates the possibility of the virus regaining virulence.

Steffen Mueller, the senior author of the research and a research assistant professor of molecular genetics and microbiology, said he is excited about the implications of the research.

“Essentially, we have rewritten the virus’ genetic instructions manual in a strange dialect of genetic code that is difficult for the host cell machinery to understand,” Mueller told “This poor line of communication leads to inefficient translation of viral protein and, ultimately, to a very weak virus that proves to be ideal for immunization.”