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美国政府要求两期刊不公开H5N1病毒研究细节

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小编摘要:H5N1是一种禽流感的名称,该病毒禽流感通常在东南亚的家禽感染中屡见不鲜,但很少感染人类。但这种禽流感病毒已经被证明是一种高传染性且强有力的疾病,60%将是致命的。

美国政府要求两期刊不公开H5N1病毒研究细节

H5N1 is the name of a bird flu virus that's commonly found infecting poultry flocks in Southeast Asia, but one that has rarely infected humans. But when it has, the bird flu has proved to be a highly infectious and potent disease, that is fatal 60 percent of the time.

But in a unique biomedical experiment, scientists at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands, engineered a strain of H5N1 that spreads more easily between mammals than the original strain - which means that some variants can also be more contagious to humans.

It was this possibility that concerned the government's biosecurity advisers.

The U.S.-based journal Science and the British journal Nature were asked by the government not to publish certain details of the experiment's methodology because that data could be used by terrorists to create a biological weapon.

The research was funded by the U.S. government. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says the research was funded because the virus is a legitimate public health concern.

But Dr. Fauci believes the government also has a responsibility to oversee the results of such experiments.

"You have to strike a delicate balance between making information available for those who have a need to know for the good of public health, as well as not making it so freely available that anyone - even people without a legitimate need to know - can have access to it," Fauici said.

The editor in chief of the journal Science, Dr. Bruce Alberts, says this is an important moment in the history of scientific publishing. He says this research and how Science and the British journal Nature decide to publish it will set a precedent for future publications.

It is likely, Dr. Alberts says, that given the prevailing threat of terrorism, barriers to free access to scientific data will recur in the future.

"We will publish the version that is appropriate but missing some key information. We have been delaying publishing - we are working with our authors to make sure that at the time of publication we could also announce a mechanism - that will ensure scientists anywhere with a need to know - they will have appropriate opportunity to get the information that they might need," Alberts said.

The H5N1 study goes on to show that it is much easier to evolve this virus into a state where it can be transmitted through the air by coughing or sneezing, which could lead to a severe pandemic.

Dr. Alberts says that is why the U.S. government funded the research in the first place. Scientists want to understand the virus in its deadliest form so that they can start working on drugs and vaccines against H5N1, to prevent a worldwide pandemic.

But critics say the limits placed on the publication of the research raise legitimate concerns about who should have access to that knowledge. Paul Roepe, Co-Director of the Center for Infectious Diseases, says viruses always mutate. Sooner or later, he believes, virologists all over the world would be able to figure out the H5N1 mutation.

"Not as fast as these folk have done it, but that doesn't mean that people in other laboratories -- even laboratories in countries that ...are not terribly friendly...will not able to do this," Roepe said.

The controversy over the new strains of the H5N1 virus -- which are being stored in secure labs in the U.S. and Europe -- has also raised concern about the possibility that the new virus might escape, or be stolen, prompting calls for more secure research facilities.

H5N1是一种禽流感的名称,该病毒禽流感通常在东南亚的家禽感染中屡见不鲜,但很少感染人类。但这种禽流感病毒已经被证明是一种高传染性且强有力的疾病,60%将是致命的。
但在麦迪逊威斯康辛大学及荷兰伊拉斯莫大学的医学中心一次独特的生物医学实验中,科学家们研究出H5N1的一系列病毒在哺乳动物之间反而更容易,这意味着一些变体也会传染给人类。
正是这种可能性使政府的生物安全顾问高度关注。
美国《科学》杂志和英国《自然》两家期刊杂志被政府要求不公开实验方法的某些细节,因为这些数据可能被恐怖分子利用制造生物武器。
这项研究是由美国政府资助。国家敏感性传染病科研院的主任安东尼•弗奇表示资助此项研究是因为这种病毒关乎着公共健康问题。
但是弗奇博士相信,政府也有责任监控实验的结果。
“你必须找到这些信息一种极其微妙的平衡,对于为了公共健康问题那些需要知道的人固然可以了解;而对于那些意图用于不法目的的人,则必须要设防。” 弗奇说道。
《科学》杂志主编布鲁斯•阿尔伯特博士表示这是科学出版历史一个非常重要的时刻。他表示《科学》和英国的《自然》杂志如何决定出版这一项研究的详细报道将为未来的出版物开创一次先例。
阿尔伯特博士表示很有可能,倘若现行的恐怖主义一直存在威胁,科学数据进入自由壁垒将会在未来重新上演。
“我们将发布的版本将是非常合适的,但删掉了一些关键信息。我们一直拖延出版——我们与作者们一起确保在的出版时间我们也会宣布一项机制,这将确保任何需要知道科学家——他们会有适当的机会知道自己可能需要的信息,”阿尔伯特博士说道。
研究证实很容易对一个国家投放H5N1病毒,而该病毒可以通过咳嗽或打喷嚏在空气传播,这可能会引发严重的流行病。
阿尔伯特博士说道这就是为什么美国政府将资助这项研究放在首位。科学家们想要深入了解迄今为止最致命的病毒,以便他们可以开始工作,制造H5N1病毒的疫苗药物,以防止一个世界流行病的发生。
但是,批评人士表示法律担忧,因为这些出版物中对于研究的条条框框将限制想获得知识的人们。传染病中心的主任保罗•罗普表示病毒总是变异。无论或早或晚,他相信世界各地的病毒学家都能够找出H5N1变异。
“不管这些科学家能不能够提早发现,但这并不意味着在其他实验室的人们——甚至不是非常友好的实验室…就发现不出来。”罗普说道。
被储存在美国和欧洲的安全实验室新型H5N1型禽流感病毒引发争论已经上升到有可能逃跑或者被偷走的阶段,因此提供更安全的研究设施的呼声更为强烈。

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2011-12-24 13:48 编辑:pliny
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