Feeds

US okays release of bird flu research

Ferret-killer research deemed to have public health benefits

High performance access to file storage

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. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Video games make you NASTY AND VIOLENT
Especially if you are bad at them and keep losing
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight
It's going to be a slow and sleepy flight for the pilots
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Honeybee boffin STINGS OWN WEDDING TACKLE... for SCIENCE
Not the worst place to be stung, says one man
India's GPS alternative launches second satellite
Closed satnav system due to have all seven birds aloft by 2016
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.