One of two papers detailing airborne H5N1 experiments is released
A controversial research paper by Wisconsin researchers that details how to make an airborne version of the H5N1 avian influenza virus is finally making its public debut.
Published online May 2 in Nature, the paper, as well as a similar one by Dutch authors, spells out genetic changes that may render the bird virus infectious between humans by airborne transmission. In November, a U.S. government advisory panel decided that information about creating a fully lethal and transmissible form of the virus should not be published.
H5N1 kills more than half the people it infects, but the virus doesn’t spread from person to person. Revised versions of both research groups’ papers make it clear that airborne, contagious versions of the virus made in the lab don’t retain the killing capacity of the original avian flu. So in March the advisory panel revised its decision to allow full publication of both studies. The Dutch group’s study is still