Thursday, August 2, 2012
The Mathematics of InfluenzaA team of mathematicians, led by CBR member Libin Rong (Department of Mathematics and Statistics), is studying how the immune system responds to a virus infection. In a recent article, Rong, his post doc Giao Huynh, and his former graduate student Kasia Pawelek analyze the Modeling Within-Host Dynamics of Influenza Virus Infection Including Immune Responses (PLoS Computational Biology, Volume 8, Article Number e1002588). The author summary is reproduced below.
"Influenza, commonly referred to as the flu, is a contagious
respiratory illness caused by influenza virus infections.
Although most infected subjects with intact immune
systems are able to clear the virus without developing
serious flu complications, the mechanisms underlying viral
control are not fully understood. In this paper, we address
this question by developing mathematical models that
include both innate and adaptive immune responses, and
fitting them to experimental data from horses infected
with equine influenza virus. We find that the innate
immune response, such as natural killer cell-mediated
infected cell killing and interferon’s antiviral effect, can
explain the first rapid viral decline and subsequent second
peak viremia, and that the adaptive immune response is
needed to eventually clear the virus. This study improves
our understanding of influenza virus dynamics and may
provide more information for future research in influenza
pathogenesis, treatment, and vaccination."
Pawelek receiced her PhD in Applied Mathematical Sciences in May, and left OU this month to become an Assistant Professor at the University of South Carolina – Beaufort.
Rong has been busy, with another article published in the Bulletin of Mathematical Biology (Modeling Quasispecies and Drug Resistance in Hepatitis C Patients Treated with a Protease Inhibitor, Volume 74, Pages: 1789-1817). His research was supported in part by a National Institutes of Health grant (P30-EB011339) to establish a core center in quantitative biology.