Feeds

US okays release of bird flu research

Ferret-killer research deemed to have public health benefits

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

US authorities have recommended that two controversial papers describing a genetically-engineerd form of the H5N1 virus, commonly known as bird flu, can be published.

As we reported in March, The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) considered a paper by Dutch Scientist Dr. Ron Fouchier and recommended that it should only be published if it did “… not include the methodological and other details that could enable replication of the experiments by those who would seek to do harm.”

That recommendation was made because the research in question explained how scientists had engineered the H5N1 virus into a form that could be transmitted aerially. Ferrets infected with the virus appear to have transmitted it to uninfected members of the same species merely by breathing on them.

Publication of research explaining how the virus was concocted, it was argued, could lead to the virus being weaponised. As that's just the kind of thing that someone wishing to unleash a pandemic would love to know, the US therefore asked the NSABB to consider whether the research should ever be published.

Scientific debate has since raged about “dual purpose” research that has potential health benefits but also has obvious security downsides.

The NSABB has now overturned its previous decision and now says, in a statement by Francis S. Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), that Fouchier's research and a paper by US-based researcher Dr. Yoshihiro Kawaoka can be published. The change has come after the NSABB evaluated additional data and assessed clarifications added to both document. The NIH now believes both pieces of research do “ … not appear to enable direct misuse of the research in ways that would endanger public health or national security.”

Science is yet to decide if it will publish Fouchier's research, as it awaits a ruling by Dutch authorities. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.