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The package that Elke Mühlberger had been waiting a decade to receive — a gray hard-plastic case a little bigger than a microwave oven — arrived in Boston earlier this month, after traveling nearly 2,000 miles from Montana. The cargo was so prized it required two carefully vetted drivers and GPS tracking on both the truck and the box.

Dressed in spacesuit-like protective garb in her laboratory, Mühlberger, a microbiologist, dug through several layers of packing materials and dry ice until she found a small, shatterproof plastic box, in which several tiny tubes nestled among paper towels.

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