New tool uses swine respiratory cells to study flu viruses

Outcomes of primary cell cultures closer to what's happening inside the animal


National Hog Farmer

Aug 05, 2019


A new tool developed at South Dakota State University (SDSU) may make studying influenza viruses easier, according to an announcement from the university.


Scientists have been using cells from chickens, dogs, monkeys and hamsters to study influenza viruses that infect pigs and humans, SDSU said, but now they can use cell cultures from the tissues of swine nasal passages, tracheas and lungs to study any of the four influenza viruses — A, B, C or D.


“This work is novel and significant to the influenza research community, in general, and swine influenza researchers, in particular,” said professor Feng Li of department of biology and microbiology in the SDSU College of Natural Sciences. These primary cell cultures provide a means of studying not only swine influenza but also human influenza.


Swine influenza can also affect humans, he added, pointing to the 2009 influenza pandemic. “Learning how influenza viruses replicate and transmit from swine to humans is critical.”


Through a National Institutes of Health grant, Li and his team are determining how influenza D, which SDSU researchers discovered in 2011, infects cells to evaluate the likelihood of the virus becoming a risk to people.


“The outcomes of these primary cells relate closely to what’s happening inside the animal,” said postdoctoral research associate Chithra Sreenivasan, who developed the cell cultures as part of her dissertation research. The study results were published in the February 2019 edition of Virology.


The cell culture work was also supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Hatch Act funding through the South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station, the National Science Foundation Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research and the South Dakota BioSystems Networks and Translational Research (BioSNTR) Center.


Influenza research ...


Characterizing cultured cells ...