H1N1 virus lacks Spanish flu’s killer protein

Molecule responsible for extent of 1918 pandemic is missing in today’s swine variant

By Tina Hesman Saey, 11:12 AM June 15, 2010

BOSTON — The H1N1 swine flu just doesn’t have what it takes to be a real killer, a new study of the 1918 Spanish flu suggests.

Scientists have been studying the 1918 Spanish flu virus to find out what made it so deadly. The virus caused a pandemic that killed 20 million to 40 million people — making it one of the most devastating epidemics in history.

The Spanish flu virus had a killer combination of surface proteins called neuraminidase (the N in H1N1) and hemagglutinin (the H in H1N1), ...

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