Controversial flu research published

08 June 2012
Posted by Kat Arney.

Researchers have finally published a study in the journal Nature showing how so-called bird-flu (avian H5N1 influenza virus) can become contagious in mammals, after heated public debate and a controversial US government recommendation to block publication. The research reveals that only a few amino acid changes are required to convert the bird virus into one that can spread in mammals, with only four changes to the viral haemagglutinin protein needed to make it into a significant threat to humans.

The researchers, led by Yoshihiro Kawaoka in Wisconsin, believe that publishing their findings is essential to help scientists around the world develop ways to monitor the disease and find effective ways to halt a future pandemic. But others have argued that the information could be hijacked by bioterrorists trying to use flu viruses for nefarious purpos

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