Scientists debate bird flu studies at WHO

February 16, 2012

Scientists met behind closed doors in Geneva Thursday to discuss whether controversial research on a mutant form of bird flu capable of being spread among humans can be made public.

The two-day gathering at the (WHO) was called to discuss the studies on the which halted on January 20, citing fears of devastation if it were to escape the laboratory.

The WHO is expected to report on any decision made at the meeting late Friday.

The 22 participants include the two teams of researchers and representatives of the scientific journals Science and Nature who were asked to withhold publication.

"Participants will discuss the specific circumstances and results of the two studies and will try to reach a consensus about practical actions to resolve the most urgent issues, particularly those related to access to and dissemination of the results of these research studies," the WHO said.

Avian influenza H5N1 is primarily transmitted between birds and very rarely to humans.

Two separate teams of researchers, one in the Netherlands and the other in the United States, found ways late last year to engineer the virus so that it could be transmitted among mammals.

The breakthrough raised alarm that the method could fall into the wrong hands and unleash a massive that could cost millions of lives.

In November the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) urged that key details remain unpublished.

Flu researchers agreed in January to halt their studies for 60 days in order to allow for international debate on the matter.

Explore further: Health experts, scientists to discuss bird flu studies

Related Stories

Health experts, scientists to discuss bird flu studies

February 10, 2012
The World Health Organization said Friday it will meet next week to determine whether scientists can publish research on a bird flu virus that may be easily passed among humans.

Bird flu researchers agree to 60-day halt (Update 2)

January 20, 2012
International scientists on Friday agreed to a temporary two-month halt to controversial research on a bird flu virus that may be easily passed among humans, citing global health concerns.

US official says bird flu limits not 'censorship'

December 21, 2011
Leading US health official Anthony Fauci on Wednesday rejected claims that the United States is censoring science by seeking to limit potentially dangerous bird flu information in major journals.

Killer flu virus threat over-hyped: Dutch scientist

December 21, 2011
A top Dutch scientist heading a team which created a mutant killer flu virus Wednesday said the threat to global biosecurity is being overplayed, even if full research results are published.

WHO 'deeply concerned' by mutant bird flu

December 31, 2011
The World Health Organization (WHO) said it was "deeply concerned" about research into whether the H5N1 flu virus could be made more transmissible between humans after mutant strains were produced in labs.

Flu virus confirmed in migratory birds

July 7, 2005
China has confirmed the deadly avian flu virus was found for the first time in migratory birds, raising fears the disease could spread to other regions.

Recommended for you

Effect of oral alfacalcidol on clinical outcomes in patients without secondary hyperparathyroidism

December 11, 2018
Treatment with active vitamin D did not decrease cardiovascular events in kidney patients undergoing hemodialysis, according to a research group in Japan. They have reported their research results in the December 11 issue ...

Study identifies a key cellular mechanism that triggers pneumonia in humans

December 11, 2018
The relationship between influenza and pneumonia has long been observed by health workers. Its genetic and cellular mechanisms have now been investigated in depth by scientists in a study involving volunteers and conducted ...

Human antibody discovery could save lives from fungal killer

December 11, 2018
A new way to diagnose, treat and protect against stealth fungal infections that claim more than 1.5 million lives per year worldwide has been moved a step closer, according to research published in Nature Communications.

Dialysis patients at risk of progressive brain injury

December 10, 2018
Kidney dialysis can cause short-term 'cerebral stunning' and may be associated with progressive brain injury in those who receive the treatment for many years. For many patients with kidney failure awaiting a kidney transplant ...

Silicosis is on the rise, but is there a therapeutic target?

December 6, 2018
Researchers from the CNRS, the University of Orléans, and the company Artimmune, in collaboration with Turkish clinicians from Atatürk University, have identified a key mechanism of lung inflammation induced by silica exposure, ...

PET scans to optimize tuberculosis meningitis treatments and personalize care, study finds

December 6, 2018
Although relatively rare in the United States, and accounting for fewer than 5 percent of tuberculosis cases worldwide, TB of the brain—or tuberculosis meningitis (TBM)—is often deadly, always hard to treat, and a particular ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.