News & AnalysisBiosecurity

Will Flu Papers Lead to New Research Oversight?

Science  06 Jan 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6064, pp. 20-22
DOI: 10.1126/science.335.6064.20

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Summary

Just before Christmas, the U.S. government announced that a biosecurity advisory board had asked two research teams to strike key details from papers in press at Science and Nature. The studies describe how researchers made the deadly H5N1 avian influenza virus more transmissible between mammals—possibly providing a blueprint on how to set off a flu pandemic. The researchers and the journals agreed, but only if the U.S. government comes up with a system that allows "responsible" scientists to see the deleted information, which public health experts say could be crucial to monitoring H5N1 outbreaks and developing drugs and vaccines. The unprecedented decision by the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity has sparked fierce criticism and strong support.