This week’s lead editorial discusses the benefits and potential risks of allowing genomic information to be freely available on the internet—and supports the recent report by the US National Research Council recommending that such information should remain freely accessible to all.
The editorial comments: ‘But while free and open access to these data is a boon to science, it carries some risk: among the genome sequences freely available on the internet are those for more than 100 pathogens, including the organisms that cause anthrax, botulism, smallpox, Ebola haemorrhagic fever, and plague. It is possible that a government, a terrorist organisation, or even an individual could use data from these repositories to create novel pathogens that could be used as weapons.’
‘The current system also offers tremendous benefits. The panel, which was commissioned by US health and security officials, pointed to the recent experience with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) as an example of the power of an open system. In March, 2003, WHO issued a global health alert about an atypical pneumonia in Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Guangdong Province in China. Within 6 weeks, the SARS coronavirus had been isolated and cultured, and its genome sequenced and posted on the internet. These data, freely available to all, allowed scientists around the world to begin studying this virus and its pathogenicity, led to the development of vaccine candidates and diagnostic tests, and helped guide the antiviral drug research. “Unfettered, free access to the results of life-science research . . . has served science and society well”, the panel argues, accelerating research and speeding the “life-saving benefits” of that research’.
Richard Lane | alfa
Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
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24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy