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Useful and Dangerous

For the past few months, a debate has raged on the pros and cons of publishing research that could be used in a dangerous manner and, in particular, whether a paper on how to make the H5N1 flu transmissible in mammals should be published in its entirety or with certain parts redacted. Nature, this week, published the complete study. And now, the US government is seeking comment from university officials on how best to deal with such papers and studies in the future, reports ScienceInsider's David Malakoff. The government recently released rules for dual-use research requiring that federal agencies systematically review the potential risks of studies involving 15 high-risk pathogens and toxins like H5N1, Malakoff says. "The reviews are designed to reduce the risks associated with dual use research of concern that could be used for good or harm," he adds. "The policy also requires the funders, scientists, and institutions to work together to develop plans for mitigating risk, including possibly altering the research or withholding research results." Though the policy only applies to federal agencies at this time, the government is seeking to make it applicable at the university level.

The Scan

Mosquitos Genetically Modified to Prevent Malaria Spread

A gene drive approach could be used to render mosquitos unable to spread malaria, researchers report in Science Advances.

Gut Microbiomes Allow Bears to Grow to Similar Sizes Despite Differing Diets

Researchers in Scientific Reports find that the makeup of brown bears' gut microbiomes allows them to reach similar sizes even when feasting on different foods.

Finding Safe Harbor in the Human Genome

In Genome Biology, researchers present a new approach to identify genomic safe harbors where transgenes can be expressed without affecting host cell function.

New Data Point to Nuanced Relationship Between Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder

Lund University researchers in JAMA Psychiatry uncover overlapping genetic liabilities for major depression and bipolar disorder.