U.S. adds to growing policy regarding dual-use biological research

Two U.S. government bodies recently announced new developments in their attempts to craft a policy to handle potentially dangerous research.

The search was pushed into urgency at the end of 2011, when the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity asked that the journals Science and Nature not publish two independent studies demonstrating how H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza could be altered to become transmissible in humans, according to Nature.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health recently announced that they have produced a final framework to guide their decisions in vetting potentially dangerous experiments before granting them funding.

The U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy recently published a long-sought after draft policy for how scientists and institutions should oversee and report on research that could potentially be used for nefarious purposes. Dual-use research of concern is considered fundable if the potential benefits are believed considerable and the risks seen as manageable, according to Nature.

"People suggest that scientific advances are good things - which they are - and then they slide into the less-justifiable idea that this particular advance is necessary or sufficient for vaccine development or surveillance," Harvard epidemiologist and microbiologist Marc Lipsitch said, Nature reports. "I'd argue that it's not."

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