By SHARON K. GILBERT
April 27, 2009
ONE YEAR AGO, nearly to the day before a woman (patient zero?) presented to hospital staff in Ouaxaca, Mexico (on April 3, 2009) with ‘atypical pneumonia’ and died, a Boston based biotech company published a press release predicting the strong likelihood of an H1N1 pandemic.
On April 7, 2008, Replikins, Ltd. presented their findings via PR Newswire, and the report was subsequently published at Bio-Medicine.org. Using their patented, FluForecast(R) software, Replikins examined infectivity and mortality rates worldwide for all types of human influenzas and determined that H1N1, rather than H5N1, would be the disease that kicked off the next global pandemic.
Coincidentally, Replikins prides itself on being able to produce synthetic vaccines based on ‘current sequences’ with a turnaround rate of only seven days. If you buy stock, you might want to look into Replikins Ltd. I’m betting they’re about to become big-time players.
According to Replikins homepage today:
Today, we are actively pursuing licensing partnerships to apply our groundbreaking technology not only to early warning systems, but also to the development of synthetic vaccines to prevent or slow future epidemics. A synthetic H1N1 Replikins Vaccine is available for testing, and related products are also available and under development.
Here’s the original Press Release from April, 2008:
BOSTON, April 7, 2008 /PRNewswire/ — Replikins Ltd. has found that the Replikin Count(TM) of the H1N1 strain of influenza virus has recently increased to 7.6 (plus/minus 1.4), its highest level since the 1918 H1N1 pandemic (p value less than 0.001). A rising Replikin Count of a particular influenza strain, indicating rapid replication of the virus, is an early warning which has been followed consistently by an outbreak of the specific strain. The current increase appears to be specific to H1N1; there was a concurrent 80% decline in the Replikin Count of H3N2, for instance.
The current H1N1 appears to be rapidly replicating simultaneously in the U.S. and Austria. It may succeed H5N1 as the leading candidate for the next expected overdue pandemic. However, the same virus replikin structures detected by FluForecast(R) software in all three previous pandemics, namely 1918 H1N1, 1957 H2N2, and 1968 H3N2, as well as in H5N1, have not yet been detected in the currently evolving H1N1.
There is evidence that many factors, including virus structure, host receptivity, and the environment, together with infectivity and rapid replication, need to converge for a pandemic to occur. For H5N1, the high human mortality rate, which peaked at over 80% in 2006-07 in Indonesia, as well as current low infectivity, both appear to limit H5N1’s ability to produce a pandemic. Furthermore, the H5N1 rapid replication cycle which began in 1996 now appears to be over. The H5N1 virus produced less than 300 World Health Organization confirmed deaths over the past 10 years.
On the other hand, H1N1, with an estimated human mortality rate of only 2.5 to 10%, but with much higher infectivity, produced an estimated 50 million deaths in the 1918 pandemic. A number of countermeasures exist today which did not exist in 1918, however. Among these is Replikins’ ability to manufacture synthetic vaccines based on current sequences, with a 7-day production turnaround.