H1N1 stands for Hemoagglutinine-1 and Neuroaminidase-1. Hemoagglutinine and neuroaminidase are two virus proteins found in Orthomyxoviridae, and are different in different virus types, so they can be used to identify the virus.
Influenza hemagglutinin is a glycoprotein found on the surface of the influenza viruses. It is responsible for binding the virus to cells with sialic acid on the membranes, such as cells in the upper respiratory tract or erythrocytes. The name “hemagglutinin” comes from the protein’s ability to cause red blood cells (erythrocytes) to clump together (“agglutinate”) in vitro.
Flu is a moving target, so scientists say they can’t predict how things will develop with the H1N1 flu outbreak that’s killed more than 1200 people in India. They agree that this virus is a descendant of the H1N1 “swine” flu that killed more than 18,000 people worldwide in 2009. But some researchers have found mutations that might make this virus more even virulent or more contagious, and might also allow it to elude the existing vaccination that were made to cover the 2009 strain.
Scientists examined genetic material from two strains in the Indian outbreak, and found several mutations in the hemagglutinin gene, which is the H in H1N1(Read ahead). Mutations in this gene influence the way the virus can enter human cells, and can potentially make the disease easier to catch and more likely to kill.Credit:Sri Ram’s IAS