H5N1 Researcher Speaks Out

Japanese virologist Yoshihiro Kawaoka, who led one of the recent studies on avian flu transmissibility, says that type of research is necessary.

By | January 26, 2012

image: H5N1 Researcher Speaks Out Dreamstime, Aaleksander

DREAMSTIME, AALEKSANDER

In light of the call to halt all research on H5N1 transmissibility and virulence for 60 days issued by 39 influenza researchers around the world last week, one of the scientists involved in the controversial research spoke out about the decision to limit or keep his work under wraps.

“As the risks of such research and its publication are debated by the community, I argue that we should pursue transmission studies of highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses with urgency,” Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a virologist at the University of Tokyo and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, wrote in a Nature commentary yesterday (January 25).

Kawaoka led the team of researchers who combined the H5 haemagglutinin (H5 HA) gene from the avian flu virus with the genes from the H1N1 influenza virus that caused a pandemic in 2009. Like the strain concocted by the research team led by Ron Fouchier at Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, Kawaoka’s strain was easily transmitted among ferrets, but unlike Fouchier’s strain, it wasn’t not deadly. More importantly, Kawaoka said in the commentary, “current vaccines and antiviral compounds are effective against it.”

Although there is a potential risk that such research could be used for bioterrorism, Kawaoka argues that there’s an even more prevalent risk that naturally existing strains may acquire mutations that can ultimately result in devastating human pandemics. “I believe that it would be irresponsible not to study the underlying mechanisms,” he wrote.

Moreover, he disagrees with the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity’s recommendation to refrain from publishing all the details in the study to deter bioterrorists from engineering lethal strains. “Redacting our papers will not eliminate that possibility,” he wrote. “There is already enough information publicly available to allow someone to make a transmissible H5 HA-possessing virus.”

“The redaction of our manuscript, intended to contain risk, will make it harder for legitimate scientists to get this information while failing to provide a barrier to those who would do harm,” he added.

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Comments

Avatar of: Brian Hanley

Brian Hanley

Posts: 66

January 26, 2012

Correct.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

January 26, 2012

Correct.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

January 26, 2012

Correct.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

January 27, 2012

“The redaction of our manuscript, intended to contain risk, will make it
harder for legitimate scientists to get this information while failing
to provide a barrier to those who would do harm,â€쳌

Amen.  Amen and amen.

You want a recipe for making an aerosol transmissible H5N1? 
1) Set up a ferret colony
2) Inoculate some with virus from H5N1-infected chicken
3) Take snot from those ferrets, inoculate more
4) Repeat often
5) Watch to see if ferrets exposed only to breath from other ferrets get sick.

Someone going to redact that??  Seriously, people: two different experiments, one starting with artificially mutated virus and one not - and while both result in aerosol-transmitted virus, one results in virus which is nasty to ferrets and the other does not.  That tell you anything?  Maybe that there's two different paths to the same thing?  And will we know what those paths are, if essential details are redacted??

And we STILL haven't shown that either infects humans, or is nasty in them - but Kawaoka and friends HAVE shown “current vaccines and antiviral compounds are effective against it.â€쳌

Get a GRIP, all you paranoid folk, and stop hawking terror out there!!  I'm sure bioterrorists have better candidate organisms.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

January 27, 2012

“The redaction of our manuscript, intended to contain risk, will make it
harder for legitimate scientists to get this information while failing
to provide a barrier to those who would do harm,â€쳌

Amen.  Amen and amen.

You want a recipe for making an aerosol transmissible H5N1? 
1) Set up a ferret colony
2) Inoculate some with virus from H5N1-infected chicken
3) Take snot from those ferrets, inoculate more
4) Repeat often
5) Watch to see if ferrets exposed only to breath from other ferrets get sick.

Someone going to redact that??  Seriously, people: two different experiments, one starting with artificially mutated virus and one not - and while both result in aerosol-transmitted virus, one results in virus which is nasty to ferrets and the other does not.  That tell you anything?  Maybe that there's two different paths to the same thing?  And will we know what those paths are, if essential details are redacted??

And we STILL haven't shown that either infects humans, or is nasty in them - but Kawaoka and friends HAVE shown “current vaccines and antiviral compounds are effective against it.â€쳌

Get a GRIP, all you paranoid folk, and stop hawking terror out there!!  I'm sure bioterrorists have better candidate organisms.

Avatar of: Ed Rybicki

Ed Rybicki

Posts: 82

January 27, 2012

“The redaction of our manuscript, intended to contain risk, will make it
harder for legitimate scientists to get this information while failing
to provide a barrier to those who would do harm,â€쳌

Amen.  Amen and amen.

You want a recipe for making an aerosol transmissible H5N1? 
1) Set up a ferret colony
2) Inoculate some with virus from H5N1-infected chicken
3) Take snot from those ferrets, inoculate more
4) Repeat often
5) Watch to see if ferrets exposed only to breath from other ferrets get sick.

Someone going to redact that??  Seriously, people: two different experiments, one starting with artificially mutated virus and one not - and while both result in aerosol-transmitted virus, one results in virus which is nasty to ferrets and the other does not.  That tell you anything?  Maybe that there's two different paths to the same thing?  And will we know what those paths are, if essential details are redacted??

And we STILL haven't shown that either infects humans, or is nasty in them - but Kawaoka and friends HAVE shown “current vaccines and antiviral compounds are effective against it.â€쳌

Get a GRIP, all you paranoid folk, and stop hawking terror out there!!  I'm sure bioterrorists have better candidate organisms.

Avatar of: Pablo Fuentes-Prior

Pablo Fuentes-Prior

Posts: 1457

January 29, 2012

Say what you want - for me it's like genetically modifying a tree so it can burn faster, and then selling the whole crap as high-level investigation to proof the reliability of fire-fighting tools...

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

January 29, 2012

Say what you want - for me it's like genetically modifying a tree so it can burn faster, and then selling the whole crap as high-level investigation to proof the reliability of fire-fighting tools...

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

January 29, 2012

Say what you want - for me it's like genetically modifying a tree so it can burn faster, and then selling the whole crap as high-level investigation to proof the reliability of fire-fighting tools...

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