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Comment

A case of the flu

Gregory A Petsko

Author Affiliations

Rosenstiel Basic Medical Sciences Research Center, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA 02454-9110, USA

Genome Biology 2012, 13:146  doi:10.1186/gb-2012-13-2-146

Published: 24 February 2012

First paragraph (this article has no abstract)

By the time you read this, the papers may be out and the moratorium may be over, though I hope not. (I'm not speaking of a moratorium on debates among Republican presidential candidates - there isn't one, although God knows we need it.) I'm referring to the 60-day moratorium, announced on January 20th this year, on certain types of experiments that could be carried out on the genome of the influenza virus. Thirty-nine prominent flu researchers agreed to this voluntary suspension of research following disclosure of results of new studies on a potentially deadly strain of influenza - studies that a number of scientists, laypeople, and public officials feared could be used to create a powerful bioweapon. That moratorium included a temporary embargo on the publication of certain experimental details of those studies, but on Friday 17 February, the World Health Organization (WHO), which sponsored the work, announced that the full details would be published within a few months.