Governments, funders and regulatory authorities must urgently address the risks posed by gain-of-function research, says Simon Wain-Hobson. Barely two months after a small group of influenza virologists lifted a moratorium on work to make the H5N1 avian flu virus as transmissible between humans as seasonal flu, researchers are at it again. Earlier this month, a Dutch scientist proposed similar experiments with other avian flu viruses, as well as the SARS coronavirus. And a fortnight ago, scientists in Germany and Switzerland reported how they had tweaked canine distemper virus to make it grow in human cells.
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