Biomedical and animal health research funding organizations in the UK have announced a £7.5 million ($11.2 million) series of projects aimed at understanding the development and spread of the pandemic influenza virus H1N1. The research will look at every aspect of the virus on pig production units as well as in pig and human populations and in hospital intensive care units.

Recent meetings held in the UK have brought together clinical and veterinary researchers to catalyze action and produce a response from the research community. The outcome is a new round of research projects backed by the Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, together with the British government’s health department and its Defra department, responsible for the environment, food and rural affairs.

These projects will include four major collaborations focusing on areas such as the role of pig-pig and pig-human interactions in the development and spread of pandemic H1N1; flu transmission within households in England; and a study of hospitalized cases of severe infection.

The studies aim to understand how the virus mutates and jumps the species barrier and how it spreads through communities; how the virus causes disease in both pigs and humans and why it affects some individuals more than others; and which interventions are most effective at preventing infection or treating the disease.

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