(PHOTO: Avian virus H5N1 in electron micrograph
The avian flu strain H5N1, seen in gold, grown in Madin-Darby canine kidney cells. It has killed at least 386 people since 2003. Photograph: AP/CDC/C Goldsmith
(June 11, 2014) Scientists condemn 'crazy, dangerous' creation of deadly airborne flu virus
Researchers say recreation of Spanish flu strain highlights risk of pandemic, but critics say work puts global population at risk
Scientists have created a life-threatening virus that closely resembles the 1918 Spanish flu strain that killed an estimated 50m people in an experiment labelled as "crazy" by opponents.
US researchers said the experiments were crucial for understanding the public health risk posed by viruses currently circulating in wild birds, but critics condemned the studies as dangerous and called on funders to stop the work.
Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison used a technique called reverse genetics to build the virus from fragments of wild bird flu strains.