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This Week in Science: Jun 22, 2012

"The publication in this issue of the research paper 'Airborne transmission of influenza A/H5N1 virus between ferrets,' plus its newer companion 'The potential for respiratory droplet-transmissible A/H5N1 influenza virus to evolve in a mammalian host,' marks the end of more than eight months of widely reported controversy over whether some of the data now freely accessible should be withheld in the public interest," writes Bruce Alberts, Science editor-in-chief, in this week's issue.

In a commentary on the publication of the papers, the US National Institutes of Health's Anthony Fauci and Francis Collins reflect upon lessons learned about dual-use research of concern, and discuss the US government's policy regarding such research. "In addition to identifying research gaps, the discussion of these manuscripts underscores the important practical issues of implementing rapid turnaround time between virus isolation and sequencing to provide real-time surveillance," Fauci and Collins say.

Elsewhere in the issue, the Association of American Universities' Carrie Wolinetz questions whether the US government's dual-use research of concern — DURC — policy "is the best policy solution to a complicated biosecurity concern," while Mark Frankel from the American Association for the Advancement of Science says that beyond DURC, "further negotiations will be needed as governments realize the consequences of such boundaries for research and society."

Harvard School of Public Health's Marc Lipsitch and his colleagues suggest in Science this week that "future experiments with virulent pathogens whose accidental or deliberate release could lead to extensive spread in human populations should be limited by explicit risk-benefit considerations," while Rino Rappuoli and Philip Dormitzer from Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics propose options to improve influenza pandemic preparation.

Over in Science Translational Medicine, an international team led by investigators at the University of New South Wales presents a preclinical study through which it found that a DNAzyme-targeting c-jun mRNA, Dz13, "may provide a safe, effective therapy for human skin cancer."

Elsewhere in the same journal, researchers at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, in Piscataway, NJ, and their colleagues show in the mdx dystrophic mouse model that injection of recombinant human mitsugumin 53, or rhMG53, decreases muscle pathology. "Our data support the concept of targeted cell membrane repair in regenerative medicine, and present MG53 protein as an attractive biological reagent for restoration of membrane repair defects in human diseases," the authors write in Science Translational Medicine this week.

The Scan

Gone, But Now Reconstructed SARS-CoV-2 Genomes

In a preprint, a researcher describes his recovery of viral sequences that had been removed from a common database.

Rare Heart Inflammation Warning

The Food and Drug Administration is adding a warning about links between a rare inflammatory heart condition and two SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, Reuters reports.

Sandwich Sampling

The New York Times sent tuna sandwiches for PCR analysis.

Nature Papers Describe Gut Viruses, New Format for Storing Quantitative Genomic Data, More

In Nature this week: catalog of DNA viruses of the human gut microbiome, new dense depth data dump format to store quantitative genomic data, and more.