Mutant H5N1 ‘bird flu’ research set to resume

January 25, 2013
A(H5N1) virus

The H5N1 virus largely affects birds and rarely infects people, but it is highly deadly when it does (credit: National Institute for Biological Standards and Control)

One year after public uproar forced them to pause, researchers who study H5N1 avian influenza by designing new, extra-virulent strains are set to resume their work, Wired Science reports.

In a letter published Jan. 23 in the journals Nature and Science, 40 virologists, including leaders of the most high-profile experiments, declared that their voluntary moratorium is now over.

Other experts say concerns about the experiments — overhyped benefits, a lack of independent review, dangers of accidental release — have not been addressed, raising the chances that the first pandemic H5N1 strain will come from a laboratory.