News & AnalysisAVIAN INFLUENZA

Public at Last, H5N1 Study Offers Insight Into Virus's Possible Path to Pandemic

Science  22 Jun 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6088, pp. 1494-1497
DOI: 10.1126/science.336.6088.1494

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Summary

Depending on your point of view, the study that appears on page 1534 of this week's issue of Science marks another good week for public health experts trying to protect a vulnerable world from a new influenza pandemic—or for future bioterrorists bent on unleashing one. The paper describes how a handful of mutations might give the H5N1 avian influenza virus, which typically infects birds, the potential to move easily between mammals and touch off a human flu pandemic. It appears after more than 8 months of often fierce international debate over whether the results should be made public—and whether researchers should have conducted the experiments at all.

  • * With reporting by David Malakoff.