FRANCIS LEROY, BIOCOSMOS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY FRANCIS LEROY, BIOCOSMOS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Artwork of the influenza virus which belongs to the Orthomyxoviridae family. The virus is formed by a core of ribonucleic acid (RNA), the brown spheres at the centre, which is surrounded by a yellow lipid envelope. It is crossed by spikes of haemagglutinin (red) and neuraminidase (green) both composed of proteinic material. The virus uses the haemagglutinin spikes to adhere to host cells and releases newly formed viruses through the neuraminidase. The red spikes may change their structure, thereby neutralising the immune system and causing a new influenza epidemic. The size of the virus is about 100 nanometers.
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