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Flu bug is mapped in 3-D

The Baylor College of Medicine announced it has produced a three-dimensional model of the flu virus, influenza B.

Influenza b virus from Virology OnlineWhile it's sexy to panic today over MRSA, the drug-resistant bacteria we now know has been killing thousands since 2005, the good news is we're making rapid progress in fighting the hot "scare story" of 2005, the bird flu. (Illustration from Virology-Online.)

The Baylor College of Medicine announced it has produced a three-dimensional model of the flu virus, influenza B. It's a close relative of the influenza A viruses, which include bird flu, and by studying the two together scientists should be able to figure out how the A becomes B and how that might be stopped.

The research will soon be detailed in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The two scientists responsible for the breakthrough are Qinghua Wang and Jianpeng Ma -- the latter is also on the faculty at Rice. Dr. Ma got his bachelor's degree from Fudan University in Shanghai.

The key to making all this possible is computing power, lots of it. The name of the field in question is computational biophysics. The hope is this kind of process can be applied to MRSA soon, while the work on the flu bug can lead to a cure.