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Science. Adaptations of Avian Flu Virus Are a Cause for Concern

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  • Science. Adaptations of Avian Flu Virus Are a Cause for Concern

    [Source: Science, full text: (LINK). Extract.]

    <CITE>Published Online January 31 2012 - <ABBR>Science</ABBR> 10 February 2012: Vol. 335 no. 6069 pp. 660-661 - DOI: 10.1126/science.1217994 </CITE>
    <CITE></CITE>Policy Forum - Public Health and Biosecurity
    Adaptations of Avian Flu Virus Are a Cause for Concern

    Kenneth I. Berns1,*, Arturo Casadevall2, Murray L. Cohen3, Susan A. Ehrlich4, Lynn W. Enquist5, J. Patrick Fitch6, David R. Franz7, Claire M. Fraser-Liggett8, Christine M. Grant9, Michael J. Imperiale10, Joseph Kanabrocki11, Paul S. Keim12,, Stanley M. Lemon13, Stuart B. Levy14, John R. Lumpkin15, Jeffery F. Miller16, Randall Murch17, Mark E. Nance18, Michael T. Osterholm19, David A. Relman20, James A. Roth21, Anne K. Vidaver22

    Author Affiliations: <SUP>1</SUP>Genetics Institute, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA. <SUP>2</SUP>Albert Einstein School of Medicine, Bronx, NY 10461, USA. <SUP>3</SUP>Frontline Healthcare Workers Safety Foundation, Ltd., Atlanta, GA 30338, USA. <SUP>4</SUP>University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX 77555, USA. <SUP>5</SUP>Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA. <SUP>6</SUP>Battelle National Biodefense Institute, LLC, Frederick, MD 21702, USA. <SUP>7</SUP>MRIGlobal, Frederick, MD 21702, USA. <SUP>8</SUP>University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA. <SUP>9</SUP>InfecDetect Rapid Diagnostic Tests, LLC, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA. <SUP>10</SUP>University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA. <SUP>11</SUP>University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA. <SUP>12</SUP>Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, and Translational Genomics Research Institute, Phoenix, AZ 85004, USA. <SUP>13</SUP>University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA. <SUP>14</SUP>Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02111, USA. <SUP>15</SUP>The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA. <SUP>16</SUP>University of California-Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA. <SUP>17</SUP>Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University-Virginia Tech Resource Center, Arlington, VA 22203, USA. <SUP>18</SUP>GE Healthcare, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA. <SUP>19</SUP>University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA. <SUP>20</SUP>Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. <SUP>21</SUP>Center for Food Security and Public Health, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA. <SUP>22</SUP>University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68588, USA.

    † Author for correspondence. E-mail:

    We are in the midst of a revolutionary period in the life sciences. Technological capabilities have dramatically expanded, we have a much improved understanding of the complex biology of selected microorganisms, and we have a much improved ability to manipulate microbial genomes. With this has come unprecedented potential for better control of infectious diseases and significant societal benefit. However, there is also a growing risk that the same science will be deliberately misused and that the consequences could be catastrophic. Efforts to describe or define life-sciences research of particular concern have focused on the possibility that knowledge or products derived from such research, or new technologies, could be directly misapplied with a sufficiently broad scope to affect national or global security. Research that might greatly enhance the harm caused by microbial pathogens has been of special concern (13). Until now, these efforts have suffered from a lack of specificity and a paucity of concrete examples of “dual use research of concern” (3). Dual use is defined as research that could be used for good or bad purposes. We are now confronted by a potent, real-world example.