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UW scientist puts bird flu research on hold

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MADISON, Wis. (WSAU) – A UW researcher joined others today in suspending their research into the potentially-deadly bird flu. About three dozen scientists said they would “pause” their studies for 60 days, while international specialists discuss what should be done with the products of their work.

Researchers at the U-W and Erasmus University in the Netherlands created a lab version of the bird flu to study how the disease would threaten people. But U-S officials who funded the studies urged the scientists last month not to publicize the formulas of their lab flu, so bio-terrorists would not steal it and the strains don’t escape if an accident were to happen.

The scientists reluctantly agreed not to publish all of the details, as long as the government comes up with a system to give the data to scientists who need to know the formula for their own research.

The National Institutes of Health is working on the system.

In announcing their “pause,” UW Madison scientist Yoshihiro Kawaoka and the other researchers called for an international public meeting to debate the best ways for scientists to learn safely about what’s been developed so far.

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