NSABB reverses stance on H5N1 studies as experts meet in London to discuss

A federal advisory board's reversal of its recommendation that two independent H5N1 studies only be published with key details redacted is poised to shift the debate over security needs for potentially dangerous research.

The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, which advises the U.S. government on dual-use research issues, recently voted to reverse its stance that revised copies of the two studies be published only in a limited form. The decision is expected to impact discussions being held in London this week regarding the issue, according to CIDRAP News.

The NSABB voted unanimously to recommend full publication of a revised manuscript by a team from the University of Wisconsin. The group voted 12-6 to publish the entire manuscript written by a team from Erasmus University in Rotterdam.

A major factor in the reversal, according to the NSABB, is new evidence that an understanding of the mutations described in the papers could aid surveillance and public health efforts. The NSABB did not elaborate as to what this means.

The National Institutes of Health, which helped to fund both studies, said that it forwarded the advisory group's decision to the NIH director and the head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for review and consideration.

"HHS will then bring a recommendation to the broader US government for consultation," the NIH said, CIDRAP News reports. "Following a decision by HHS on the NSABB recommendations, HHS will work with the international community in moving forward on dual use research more broadly."

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National Institutes of Health

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