NSABB urges limitations for Dutch bird flu study

The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, which recently lifted its objections to the publication of two controversial bird flu studies, has raised new concerns about the research conducted by Dutch scientists.

The biosecurity panel submitted a report to the U.S. government over the weekend that waived its previous objections to a study conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison by Yoshihiro Kawaoka. The board said that the study led by Ron Fouchier at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, however, would require clarification before it could be published, the Canadian Press reports.

In addition, the board suggested that additional information that was not included in the study the board vetted should not be put into the final document.

"Importantly, the board also noted that additional information that would enable the construction of an H5N1 virus that is both highly pathogenic and transmissible between mammals through the air should not be included in the manuscript," the board said, according to the Canadian Press.

The controversy began in the fall when the board advised the government to ask the journals planning to publish the two studies to withhold certain portions so that others would not be able to repeat the work. The studies show how H5N1 influenza viruses can be mutated so that they spread through the air from ferret to ferret. Ferrets are mammals used as proxies for humans in research into influenza.