Controversial research aims to develop more potent H7N9

10/24/2013 | New York Post

Scientists Ron Fouchier and Ab Osterhaus are manipulating the genome of the H7N9 avian influenza virus in an effort to create a strain that is easily transmissible among humans. They say developing such a strain would be a major advancement in learning how to prevent and treat the already deadly influenza virus, which has killed 45 of the 136 people it has infected. However, opponents think the work is risky. Steven Salzberg, a professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said, "The notion of 'gain of function' research on pathogens is very, very dangerous."

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