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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2011 6:47 pm 
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Posts: 5184
Location: East of London
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/ ... ds-newsxml

Quote:
'Anthrax isn't scary at all compared to this': Man-made flu virus with potential to wipe out many millions if it ever escaped is created in research lab By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 10:04 PM on 26th November 2011

Scientist responsible is bracing himself for a media storm
Just five tweaks to H5N1 makes it more contagious
Contagious version of bird flu could cause pandemic
Scientists divided over whether findings can be released

A group of scientists is pushing to publish research about how they created a man-made flu virus that could potentially wipe out civilisation.
The deadly virus is a genetically tweaked version of the H5N1 bird flu strain, but is far more infectious and could pass easily between millions of people at a time.
The research has caused a storm of controversy and divided scientists, with some saying it should never have been carried out.
Deadly: The new strain of bird flu could wipe out millions of people at a time
The current strain of H5N1 has only killed 500 people and is not contagious enough to cause a global pandemic.
But their are fears the modified virus is so dangerous it could be used for bio-warfare, if it falls into the wrong hands.
Virologist Ron Fouchier of the Erasmus Medical Centre in the Netherlands lead a team of scientists who discovered that a mere five mutations to the avian virus was sufficient to make it spread far more easily.
He conducted his tests on ferrets as the animals have become a model of choice for influenza and have similar respiratory tracts to humans.
Fouchier is so prepared for a media storm that he has hired an advisor to help him work on a communication strategy.

The research done was part of an international drive to understand H5N1 more fully.
Fouchier admitted the strain is 'one of the most dangerous viruses you can make' but is still adamant he wants to publish a paper describing how it was done.
The study is one of two which has caused serious debate about scientific freedom and about regulating research which might have potential public health benefits but at the same time could also be useful for bio-terrorism.

The other paper, also on H5N1, was done by a joint team at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Tokyo.

It is understood to have had comparable results to the study done by Fouchier.
Dangerous: It is feared if new details of the avian flu is published, it could be used for bioterrorism
Both papers are now being reviewed by the U.S National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB).
NSABB does not have the power to prevent the publication but it could ask journals not to publish.

Paul Keim, chairman of NSABB, said: 'I can't think of another pathogenic organism that is as scary as this one. I don't think anthrax is scary at all compared to this.'
Traditionally scientific research has always been open so that fellow scientists can review the work of others and repeat their methods to try and learn from them.
But numerous scientists have said they believe research on the avian flu should be suppressed.
However bio-defense and flu expert Michael Osterholm, who is director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of innesota, said the work carried out was important medically.

He added he could not discuss the papers because he was a member of NSABB but said if they were published certain information could be withheld and made available to those who really need to know.
'We don't want to give bad guys a road map on how to make bad bugs really bad,' he said.

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Praemonitus, Praemunitus..Forewarned is Forearmed.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2011 6:52 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 08, 2010 3:22 pm
Posts: 5184
Location: East of London
http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/8l ... lian_h5n1/

Quote:
ROTTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS—Locked up in the bowels of the medical faculty building here and accessible to only a handful of scientists lies a man-made flu virus that could change world history if it were ever set free.

The virus is an H5N1 avian influenza strain that has been genetically altered and is now easily transmissible between ferrets, the animals that most closely mimic the human response to flu. Scientists believe it's likely that the pathogen, if it emerged in nature or were released, would trigger an influenza pandemic, quite possibly with many millions of deaths.

In a 17th floor office in the same building, virologist Ron Fouchier of Erasmus Medical Center calmly explains why his team created what he says is "probably one of the most dangerous viruses you can make"—and why he wants to publish a paper describing how they did it. Fouchier is also bracing for a media storm. After he talked toScienceInsider yesterday, he had an appointment with an institutional press officer to chart a communication strategy.

Fouchier's paper is one of two studies that have triggered an intense debate about the limits of scientific freedom and that could portend changes in the way U.S. researchers handle so-called dual-use research: studies that have a potential public health benefit but could also be useful for nefarious purposes like biowarfare or bioterrorism.

The other study—also on H5N1, and with comparable results—was done by a team led by virologist Yoshihiro Kawaoka at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the University of Tokyo, several scientists toldScienceInsider. (Kawaoka did not respond to interview requests.) Both studies have been submitted for publication, and both are currently under review by the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB), which on a few previous occasions has been asked by scientists or journals to review papers that caused worries.

NSABB chair Paul Keim, a microbial geneticist, says he cannot discuss specific studies but confirms that the board has "worked very hard and very intensely for several weeks on studies about H5N1 transmissibility in mammals." The group plans to issue a public statement soon, says Keim, and is likely to issue additional recommendations about this type of research. "We'll have a lot to say," he says

I feel as though I ought provide more commentary instead of just an article dump, but I feel more strongly than that that what I have to say would be obvious or stupid or both, so.

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Praemonitus, Praemunitus..Forewarned is Forearmed.


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