Breaking News
March 23, 2018 - Novel vaccine technologies can help better prepare for future infectious disease threats
March 23, 2018 - OncoBreak: Colonoscopy TV; Coverage for Genomic Testing; Care for Caregivers
March 23, 2018 - For some surgeries, nerve blocks mean better outcomes, fewer opioids
March 23, 2018 - Maternal obesity and androgen excess induce sex-specific anxiety in offspring, study suggests
March 23, 2018 - The tale of Theranos and the mysterious fire alarm
March 23, 2018 - Impulsivity may be associated with greater weight loss during treatment in obese children
March 23, 2018 - CTI BioPharma Announces Publication of Pacritinib Phase 3 PERSIST-2 Clinical Trial in JAMA Oncology
March 23, 2018 - Senate Panel Addresses Native Americans’ Opioid Troubles
March 23, 2018 - Brain connections in schizophrenia
March 23, 2018 - Mental health assessment in health checks can help detect psychologically vulnerable people
March 23, 2018 - Groundbreaking 100,000 Genomes Project achieves important milestone to transform NHS care
March 23, 2018 - Mice getting a new lease of life with anti-aging pills
March 23, 2018 - Obesity kills taste buds and dulls taste sensation finds study
March 23, 2018 - Medical students get less formal education in radiation oncology, study finds
March 23, 2018 - Researchers find investigational compound to treat triple negative breast cancer after brain metastasis
March 23, 2018 - Researchers develop wearable system to monitor electrical activity in the stomach over 24 hours
March 23, 2018 - A Different Opioid Crisis | Medpage Today
March 23, 2018 - PTSD an ongoing fight for generation of Iraq War vets
March 23, 2018 - Researchers uncover specific gene region in hypertension
March 23, 2018 - Specific immune cells may help slow progression of ALS, research shows
March 23, 2018 - Biosense Webster launches new ‘Power to Heal’ campaign to alleviate AF burden
March 23, 2018 - FDA could curb or ban tobacco in menthol or fruit flavoured cigarettes soon
March 23, 2018 - Mom’s Pre-Pregnancy Waist Size Tied to Autism Risk
March 23, 2018 - AMD Treat-and-Extend Regimens OK: Ophthalmology Times
March 23, 2018 - Safe-sleep recommendations for infants have not reduced sudden deaths in newborns
March 23, 2018 - Survey finds inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics for hospitalized children
March 23, 2018 - Researchers propose alternative treatment to target lymphoma signaling at its root
March 22, 2018 - Compound found in beet extract could help slow progression of Alzheimer’s disease
March 22, 2018 - Lower temperatures can trigger the body’s ‘good’ fat formation at cellular level
March 22, 2018 - Sentinel lymph node biopsies could be safely avoided for some breast cancer patients
March 22, 2018 - Combined Preeclampsia Test Superior to U.K. Standards
March 22, 2018 - Exclusive breastfeeding in hospital associated with longer breastfeeding duration
March 22, 2018 - Researchers prove link between common childhood cancer and inflammation
March 22, 2018 - Targeting aberrantly active telomerase to treat therapy-resistant melanoma
March 22, 2018 - California’s tax on millionaires yields big benefits for people with mental illness, study finds
March 22, 2018 - Weight-loss surgery reduces risk for severe chronic kidney disease and kidney failure
March 22, 2018 - Study identifies two genes associated with extreme nausea and vomiting during pregnancy
March 22, 2018 - Biohaven Enrolls First Patient In Phase 3 Clinical Trial To Evaluate Rimegepant Zydis® ODT In The Acute Treatment Of Migraine
March 22, 2018 - ‘Bionic Pancreas’ OK for Very Young T1D Patients
March 22, 2018 - Parkinson’s gene initiates disease outside of the brain
March 22, 2018 - NMSU researchers publish findings on effective measures to remedy stress among adolescents
March 22, 2018 - Immunotherapy combination increases overall survival in people with kidney cancer, study shows
March 22, 2018 - Increased rate of accidental injuries associated with poorer hearing ability
March 22, 2018 - Gut microbiome may promote pancreatic cancer by inducing immune suppression
March 22, 2018 - New ocular inserts allow patient’s cornea to absorb more antibiotics
March 22, 2018 - FDA Alert: NeuroBlate Probe by Monteris Medical: Letter to Health Care Providers, Class I Recall
March 22, 2018 - Cessation of exercise can result in increased depressive symptoms
March 22, 2018 - Morning Break: Booze Study Brouhaha; Stem Cells for MS; Big Debt Problem
March 22, 2018 - New wearable tech from Western may hold big benefits for people with Parkinson’s
March 22, 2018 - Immune cells can repopulate in the retina after elimination, mice study shows
March 22, 2018 - States extend Medicaid for birth control, cutting costs — and future enrollment
March 22, 2018 - Research provides better understanding of how cancerous cells behave in low oxygen
March 22, 2018 - Menopausal hormone therapy taken soon after menopause may benefit the brain
March 22, 2018 - Booze Boosts Your Heart Rate
March 22, 2018 - Skeptical Cardiologist: Classifying Heart Failure
March 22, 2018 - Instead of nagging your spouse to lose weight, try going on a diet yourself
March 22, 2018 - Neem Biotech to share findings on cystic fibrosis biofilm disruption at ECFS Basic Science Conference
March 22, 2018 - Study uncovers new genetic cause of posterior polymorphous corneal dystrophy
March 22, 2018 - ENDO: Big Breakfast May Help in Diabetics
March 22, 2018 - I’m not overweight, so why do I need to eat healthy foods?
March 22, 2018 - UCLA-led study suggests unexpected reason for reduction in cardiovascular health disparities
March 22, 2018 - Study suggests detailed neuropsychological assessment for brief cardiac arrest survivors
March 22, 2018 - Anticoagulant drugs found safe to use in patients undergoing surgery for irregular heartbeat
March 22, 2018 - SP Industries appoints Brian Larkin as new President and CEO
March 22, 2018 - GTx Announced New Data Demonstrating Enobosarm’s Potential to Treat Stress Urinary Incontinence
March 22, 2018 - Higher Risk of Brain Deficits in Older Alcoholics
March 22, 2018 - Top US health official resigns in conflict of interest
March 22, 2018 - Study shows benefits of hair loss drug in improving cognitive function and vascular health
March 22, 2018 - Researchers explain link between 2 key Alzheimer’s proteins
March 22, 2018 - Patients on replacement therapy with thyroid hormone may have more comorbidities
March 22, 2018 - Higher online patient ratings linked to urologists who saw fewer Medicare patients
March 22, 2018 - FDA Approves Ilumya (tildrakizumab-asmn) for the Treatment of Moderate-to-Severe Plaque Psoriasis
March 22, 2018 - Beer Raises Heart Rate; KardiaBand Hyperkalemia Test; CHD Clinics
March 22, 2018 - A retinal implant that is more effective against blindness
March 22, 2018 - New system based on artificial intelligence provides reliable detection of breast cancer
March 22, 2018 - Research offers new understanding about cause of Parkinson’s disease
March 22, 2018 - HORIBA’s Microsemi CRP analyzer improves quality of care in emergency pediatric units, study shows
March 22, 2018 - Neuroscientists move closer to developing tools for deciphering brain function
March 22, 2018 - New test methods with less fear
March 22, 2018 - Range of Vaginal Dryness Products Can Help Postmenopausal Women: Study
New flu forecasting tool makes better predictions by factoring evolution of virus

New flu forecasting tool makes better predictions by factoring evolution of virus

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

Each year, public health officials monitor the spread of influenza to identify which flu strains need to go into that year’s vaccines and where outbreaks will occur. But it can be difficult to predict how bad a particular flu season will be until people actually start getting sick.

A new flu forecasting tool built by scientists at the University of Chicago aims to make better predictions by combining data about how the virus spreads with an estimate of how much the current virus evolved compared to recent years. Using historical data as a test, the new model accurately predicted the total number of cases for each season in the U.S. from 2002 to 2016, and produced an accurate, real-time prediction for the 2016-17 season before it started last year.

The researchers say the new model, described this week in Science Translational Medicine, can be used to complement existing forecasting tools that track flu outbreaks in real time by providing an early warning before the season starts.

“Combining information about the evolution of the virus with epidemiological data will generate disease forecasts before the season begins, significantly earlier than what is currently possible,” said Mercedes Pascual, PhD, professor of ecology and evolution at UChicago and senior author of the study. “You could imagine using our model to make an early prediction about overall severity of the season, and then use other methods to forecast the timing of the outbreak once it begins.”

Each year, four influenza strains circulate in the human population: H3N2, H1N1, and two B variants. These viruses spread seasonally each year because of a phenomenon known as antigenic drift. They evolve just enough to evade human immune systems, but not enough to develop into completely new versions of the virus.

If the virus changed a lot, more people get sick because they haven’t been exposed to that particular variation. But most flu forecasting models don’t factor in this change. Instead, they are based on mathematical calculations of how quickly the virus is spreading-;and these projections can’t be made until the current season is already underway.

For the new model, Pascual and Xiangjun Du, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at UChicago who led the study, analyzed genetic sequences from previous years of the H3N2 virus. They then compared them to early samples of the current virus that were collected before the season started each year. This allowed them to create an evolutionary index for the current virus, or a measure of how much it changed. Adding this crucial piece of information to the new model generates an early estimate of the overall severity of the coming flu season, because they can make a projection as soon as current year’s variation of the virus starts to emerge in the spring and summer.

“Every two or three years, there is a big genetic change in the virus, which can make many more people sick,” Du said. “Without factoring evolution into the model, you cannot capture these peaks in the number of cases.”

The model was built with historical data about the H3N2 virus, although it could be adapted for other strains of flu. The researchers tested its accuracy by seeing how well it predicted past seasons from 2002-2016, including years that weren’t used to initially calibrate the tool (the final five from 2011-2016). It generated accurate estimates of the overall number of cases in the U.S. for each year, and produced an accurate forecast for the 2016-17 season before it started last fall.

So, what’s in store for this flu season?

“That’s the million-dollar question,” Pascual said. “Our analysis for this year showed that the virus is already changing in a significant way. We predict an outbreak that is above average but moderate, not severe, because last year was such a bad season.”


Flu forecasting tool uses evolution to make earlier predictions

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles