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This Week in Science: Aug 9, 2013

In Science this week, the journal publishes a letter — released jointly with one in Nature — in which numerous researchers from different institutes outline plans for gain-of-function research on avian influenza viruses. The letter’s authors highlight the risks posed by the viruses and stress the need for additional research such as gain-of-function experiments to better understand issues of immunogenicity, adaptation, drug resistance, transmission, and pathogenicity. They also discuss matters of laboratory biosafety and dual-use research. "As members of the influenza research community, we believe that the avian A(H7N9) virus outbreak requires focused fundamental and applied research conducted by responsible investigators with appropriate facilities and risk-mitigation plans in place," the researchers argue.

Daily Scan also covers this letter, and more, here.

Also in Science, a team from the US National Cancer Institute present the details of an experimental system for visualizing the formation of translocations in living cells and its use in characterizing the spatial and dynamic properties of translocation formation. Using ultrahigh-throughput time-lapse imaging on human cells, the group captured rare translocation events, including double-strand breaks, as they occurred, marking the first visualization of chromosome translocations in living cells. "The experimental system described here serves as the basis for a comprehensive spatial and temporal framework for the elucidation of the mechanisms involved in the formation of chromosome translocations and will enable in-depth analysis of translocation mechanisms in vivo," the team adds.