September 25, 2013
Virologist Ron Fouchier has suffered a loss in a legal battle with
the Dutch government over the publication of his controversial H5N1
influenza research. On Friday, a Dutch district court ruled that the
government was right to ask Fouchier to obtain an export license before
sending two hotly debated papers out for publication. The ruling, published yesterday (Dutch), could provide new roadblocks for Fouchier’s research in the future.
At issue is Fouchier’s hotly debated paper showing that a few
mutations can make H5N1, a virus that normally infects birds,
transmissible through the air between ferrets, which was published in Science in June 2012. The fight also involved an accompanying paper published in the same issue in which Fouchier and others tried to gauge the likelihood that such viruses arise spontaneously in nature.