By Sarah Owermohle

A panel of federal advisers voted unanimously Friday to advance a set of proposals to bolster government oversight of pathogen research that could make viruses more transmissible.

The advisers, a collection of biosecurity, ethics and infectious disease experts, united to vote the set of proposals through with minor changes. But some of the scientists who attended the public meeting balked at language that they said could accidentally hinder relatively low-risk gain-of-function research, which manipulates pathogens in order to study a virus’s origins with the aim of developing speedy treatments.

The panel’s draft report, which recommends safeguards including “federal department-level review” of gain-of-function studies and implementing a broader definition of pathogens that could potentially cause pandemics, will be finalized, then sent to top National Institutes of Health officials, which currently do not include a permanent NIH director or a replacement for National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci.

Link to article by Sarah Owermohle in Stat News



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