Export Categories of Concern

There are seven categories of research warranting assessment for dual use research concerns. According to the NSABB framework the categories are knowledge, products, or technologies that may enable any of the following:


  1. Enhance the harmful consequences of a biological agent or toxin. Enhancing the pathogenic consequences of an agent includes making a nonpathogenic microbe pathogenic.
  2. Disrupt immunity or the effectiveness of an immunization without clinical and/or agricultural justification. Rendering immunizations ineffective could have harmful consequences for public health, agricultural crops and other plants and animals.
  3. Confer to a biological agent or toxin, resistance to clinically and/or agriculturally useful prophylactic or therapeutic interventions against that agent or toxin or facilitate their ability to evade detection methodologies. Anything which may compromise detection, treatment, or prevention of disease or illness caused by biological agents or toxins could result in a public health and/or economic burden.
  4. Increase the stability, transmissibility, or the ability to disseminate a biological agent or toxin. Examples of research which may be dual use of concern include changing genetic factors to increase transmissibility and altering the route of transmission or vector to increase the ease or effectiveness for transmitting an agent.
  5. Alter the host range or tropism of a biological agent or toxin. One example that may be of dual use concern includes converting nonzoonotic agents into zoonotic agents, altering the tropism of viruses, and expanding the varieties of the same plant that a pathogenic agent could infect.
  6. Enhance the susceptibility of a host population. This may include creation of a stable recombinant Lactobacillus casei that could effectively block the host’s ability to synthesize an immune signal which may facilitate the evasion of normal host defenses.
  7. Generate a novel pathogenic agent or toxin or reconstitute an eradicated or extinct biological agent. A considered dual use of concern include the construction of a microbial pathogen using unique gene sequences that do not exist in nature and reconstitution of a pathogen that no longer exists in nature, such as the reconstruction of the 1918 pandemic influenza virus.