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Over the last year, websites operated by the governments of Iran, Egypt and Tunisia, as well as corporations including PayPal, Sony, Mastercard and Visa, have all been taken down by hackers. A concerted cyber attack against targets in the United States could have serious consequences, experts agreed at a AAAS discussion.

Clinical trials are crucial to developing lifesaving drugs and procedures, but medical researchers today are frustrated: Often benefits from the proposed advances are so subtle that they require increasingly complex and incredibly expensive studies involving thousands of patients to show whether or not there is some small benefit. At the same time, patients are pressing for access to promising treatments as soon as possible, sometimes before the trials are even done.