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Federal government announces special oversight for avian flu experiments By Carolyn Y. Johnson / Globe Staff

August 8, 2013 Comments off

boston.com

The federal government announced Wednesday a special oversight process for experiments that involve tinkering with a new strain of avian flu detected in Asia earlier this year, but the decision has not come without controversy.

Such experiments, which can produce forms of the H7N9 virus that are more dangerous to people, are aimed at understanding the pathogen that has infected more than 130 people in China and killed about a third of them. Researchers also announced Wednesday that they had seen the first evidence that the virus had spread from person to person.

The knowledge gained from this type of research could help prepare health officials for a potential pandemic and lead to the development of new therapies or vaccines, but also poses scary what-if scenarios, ranging from the accidental escape of a Read more…