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Fears of breaching US export controls have forced a centre in Virginia set up as an international resource for malaria researchers to refuse requests for reagents from scientists in Sudan and Cuba.

The Malaria Research and Reference Reagent Resource Center (MR4) in Manassas, Virginia, was established in 1998 to supply information and reagents to malaria researchers across the globe.

But scientists at the centre realised last month that they risk fines of US$11,000 for each reagent sent to Cuba or Sudan. Both countries are covered by a US trade embargo on the grounds that they pose an "unusual and extraordinary threat" to US national security.

Reference: Nature 411, 510 (2001)

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