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Science Panel Recommends Censoring Bird Flu Papers 126

Morty writes "The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) has recommended that details of two research papers involving Avian Flu not be published because of security concerns. At least one of the research groups says that their work should be logically reproducible. The NSABB's censorship recommendations do not (currently) have the force of law, but Science and Nature voluntarily delayed publication."
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Science Panel Recommends Censoring Bird Flu Papers

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  • FYI (Score:4, Informative)

    by elsurexiste ( 1758620 ) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @06:20AM (#38889115) Journal

    These people are an official panel of the US Department of Health. From Wikipedia:

    It is tasked with recommending policies on such questions as how to prevent published research in biotechnology from aiding terrorism, without slowing scientific progress.

    Just in case you've never heard of them (I know I haven't).

  • Incorrect. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @07:07AM (#38889367)
    What they actually did was create a NEW strain of the virus, which was physically transmissible. Before they bred this transmissible virus via ferrets, it was not easily transmitted to humans.

    So what they did was actually create a superflu... one with a high mortality rate in humans and is easily transmissible. Whereas before these experiments, it already had a high mortality rate, but was not easy to transmit.

    These were extrememly dangerous experiments that should never have been carried out. The labs where they did this work do make mistakes... we know because they have suffered loss of containment in the past!

    If you want to read more about it, just google "H5N1" and "ferret".
  • Re:Incorrect. (Score:5, Informative)

    by emilper ( 826945 ) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @07:25AM (#38889447)

    there was another thread about this same subject a few weeks ago, and there was no "new strain of the virus", just a virus sharing one of the proteins that help the virii attach to cells

    while we have lots of resistant bacterias living in our hospitals (and by our mean "all the hospitals in the world"), we're getting hype over this ... not sure any more it's hysterics or histrionics ... maybe Netherlands needs pretexts to wipe out chicken farms somewhere ...

    here you go, mandatory link to non-brain-damaged content ... []

    Scientists appear to be responsible for the hype surrounding this experiment. Fouchier called it ‘one of the most dangerous viruses you can make’. Paul Keim, chair of NSABB, ‘can’t think of another pathogenic organism that is as scary as this one’, and Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University says the experiment should not have been done. Martin Enserink writing in ScienceInsider says that the virus could change world history, and similar proclamations of doom can be found in the popular press.

    Passage of viruses in a different host is one strategy for reducing the virulence in humans. This concept is explained in this passage from Principles of Virology:

    Less virulent (attenuated) viruses can be selected by growth in cells other than those of the normal host, or by propagation at nonphysiological temperatures. Mutants able to propagate better under these selective conditions arise during viral replication. When such mutants are isolated, purified, and subsequently tested for pathogenicity in appropriate models, some may be less pathogenic than their parent.

    The possibility that passage of the H5N1 virus in ferrets will attenuate its virulence in humans has been ignored.

    getting tired of this ...

  • Re:FYI (Score:4, Informative)

    by sirlark ( 1676276 ) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @07:48AM (#38889571)
    The US Department of Health is concerned mainly with management of public health, maintianing the public health care system, and responding to widespread health emergencies. The NIH is a research body primarily involved with research in the health and biosciences, and with distributing funding to other organisations doing research in those fields.
  • Re:FYI (Score:4, Informative)

    by dkf ( 304284 ) <> on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @08:27AM (#38889809) Homepage

    What's the difference between the US Department of Health and National Institute of Health (NIH)? I know the latter is part of the executive branch, but that'sit.

    They're both executive branch. The NIH are formally a part of the DoH, and have responsibility for doing (and coordinating) research for the department. There are similar arrangements in other departments (the DoD has DARPA, the DoE fund a number of national labs, etc.) and it's not very remarkable. In general, it's useful for the departments to have research arms in order to both provide solid scientifically-based advice on policy, and to gently encourage everyone else to do research that benefits the nation as well as themselves.

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