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U.S. To Temporarily Halt Funding For Controversial Virus Research
National Public Radio

The federal government will temporarily stop funding any new studies that could make three high-risk infectious diseases even more dangerous. The government is asking all scientists involved in this research now to voluntarily halt their current studies.

The unusual move comes after a long controversy over experiments with mutant forms of a bird flu virus.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy said that the government will launch a review of the potential risks and benefits of certain experiments with three viruses: SARS, MERS and influenza.

The concern is that so-called gain-of-function studies would probe how these viruses work by altering them in ways that could make them more pathogenic or contagious.
Scientists have been arguing about the wisdom of doing such experiments ever since two studies of the H5N1 bird flu virus created mutant forms that could potentially spread between people and cause a pandemic, if they ever got out of the lab.

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