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An end to the H5N1 saga?

Ojcius, David. "An end to the H5N1 saga?" Nature Reviews Microbiology, vol. 10, no. 6, June 2012, p. 380.

In recent weeks the debate over the publication of two controversial H5N1 influenza virus articles has escalated, but a resolution finally seems to be on the cards. The research deals with the creation of mutant avian H5N1 variants that can spread among mammals by the aerosol route. Having initially ruled that the experimental details should be redacted from both papers, the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) reversed this decision in March 2012 after reviewing revised versions of both papers, and the work of Kawaoka and colleagues was recently published in Nature. The authors describe the generation of a reassortant virus in which the haemagglutinin (HA) protein of the 2009 human pandemic H1N1 influenza virus was replaced by an H5N1 HA carrying four mutations that facilitate transmission of the reassortant virus among ferrets through respiratory droplets. However, the reassortant virus was not highly pathogenic in the ferret model and was susceptible to currently available antiviral agents and vaccines. At the time of going to press, the second article had not yet been published, but the lead author, Ron Fouchier, had been granted an export license by the Dutch government, which should clear the way for its publication in Science.

Photo from: By Cybercobra at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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