- The study comes half a year after a controversy rose over research.
- As few as five mutations in the virus were sufficient to enable it to spread via airborne droplets.
- Another project accomplished the same thing, but used a different technique to create the mutant virus.
Half a year after controversy arose over research that created more transmissible forms of the bird flu virus, the second and final study to do so has been published. The publication describes how the H5N1 virus, with a handful of genetic changes, can become capable of airborne transmission - a prerequisite for a global flu pandemic.
"It's our hope that tomorrow's publication will help to make the world safer, particularly by stimulating many more scientists and policymakers to focus on preparing defenses," Bruce Alberts, editor-in-chief of the journal Science, where the most recent H5N1 study appears, said during a press conference Wednesday (June 20).
This study, conducted in Ron Fouchier's lab at the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, found that as few as five mutations in the H5N1 virus were sufficient to enable it to spread via airborne droplets between ferrets, the mammalian stand-in for humans. Independently, another project accomplished the same thing, but used a different technique to create the mutant virus. [10 Deadly Diseases That Hopped Across Species]