An Italian R&D institution with experience in investigating the influenza A virus, is looking for partners for research cooperation agreement. The influenza A virus is widespread in bird farms with sporadic infections in humans. This project applies NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) and MD (molecular dynamics) simulation to understand this molecular recognition for new subtypes and, importantly, provides a predictive capacity that will help forestall future influenza epidemics.


An Italian R&D institution is investigating the molecular mechanisms of how the protein hemagglutinin (HA) of the avian influenza A viruses recognizes the glycan host cell receptors contributing to the virus diffusion efficiency.

The avian influenza A virus infection begins through the binding of the viral recognition protein hemagglutinin (HA) to the glycoconjugates (glycans) of host cells. Literature data suggest that the HA of human-infective influenza subtypes preferentially recognize α(2,6) linked sialic acids (SAs) (human-like receptors), whereas the HA of avian-infective influenza sub-types preferentially recognizes α(2,3) linked SAs (avian-like receptors). Viruses of avian origin infect and propagate between birds but rarely, and more dangerously, these zoonotic outbreaks become human adapted, carrying the threat of efficient transmission between humans; in this condition. the virus is considered potentially pandemic.

Advanced NMR techniques (nuclear magnetic resonance), combined with molecular dynamic simulations (MD), are essential to characterize at the molecular level, the binding between the HA of selected subtypes (H1 and H7) and host glycan receptors. The long-term goal of this study is to understand the HA recognition mechanism, focusing on the ability of different HA forms to distinguish human from avian glycan receptors, enabling prediction of those mutations that could improve HA specificity.

This investigation will be of interest to both academic and applied researchers, and will improve the R&D institution’s ability to design new antiviral drugs. More importantly, it will provide a predictive capacity regarding which mutations of the avian virus could potentially cause human pandemics.

The Italian R&D institution is looking for research groups from universities and/or research institutes for research cooperation agreement.

Technical Specification or Expertise Sought

The partners sought are research groups with a strong experience in:

  1. Production of Engineered Avian Influenza A virus (IAV) recognition proteins: hemagglutinin (HA) of the new incoming IAV such as H1, H7, and selected mutations by standard expression methods.
  2. Biochemical affinity experiments (i.e. glycan array) to tests HA affinity to avian and human glycan receptors.

Type and Role of Partner Sought

Partners sought are research groups from universities and/or research institutes with strong interest in knowledge developments on the molecular mechanisms by which influenza A virus recognizes target cells.

The role of the partner will be to collaborate in the research project to share: knowledge, publications on international peer reviewed journals, dissemination, and application in search for funds.

Los grupos de investigación que estén interesados, pueden contactar con la OTRI en la siguiente dirección: Tlfno: 957-212058. Preguntar por Luis Barrón. Esta demanda caduca el 31/07/2018.