Two teams of scientists have identified genetic mutations that enable the H5N1 avian influenza virus to spread more easily among ferrets, which are often used as a model to determine whether an influenza virus might be transmissible among humans. Concerns about the potential for such findings to aid terrorists and the possibility of accidental release of the virus into the wild touched off a worldwide debate, delayed publication of the results, and prompted a temporary moratorium on such research.
Kuehn BM. International Debate Erupts Over Research on Potentially Dangerous Bird Flu Strains. JAMA. 2012;307(10):1009-1012. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.230