Killer flu virus built from scratch

  • #1
selfAdjoint
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See http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7279844/did/9598565/.

The virus that caused the deadly "Spanish" flu epidemic of 1918-1919 has been reconstructed using a sample of its DNA. The object is to study how flu viruses mutate and attack.
 

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  • #2
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Hunh.

Any interesting ideas about that, so far? I had always assumed it was a random fluke - some years are wimpy flu years, and others are much worse.

One of my mother's aunts died in that outbreak, as I am sure is true for many here.
 
  • #3
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Too bad the cdc is not giving the samples to other universities for study. It would be hard knowing the progress of their research.
 
  • #5
selfAdjoint
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pattylou said:
It appears to be genetically similar to bird flu. Not meant as a scare, but as an interesting piece of information. Bird flu would have to undergo several mutations to become as dangerous to humans as the Spanish Flu of 1918.
http://www.boston.com/yourlife/heal...scientists_re_create_1918_flu_pandemic_virus/

I have now looked at the paper in last week's Science. The super lethality is due to two gene strands that interfere with the cell biology in the lungs. This is different from the mechanism of modern flu viruses. So probably it won't come again.

BUT, I learn from an editorial in that same issue of Science that Nature has taken the, in my view, catastrophically stupid action of publishing the sequences of those two killer strands. The editorial makes all sorts of excuses of this, needs of scientific research, blah, blah, blah, but it doesn't require the whole virus to be rebuilt to make this into a terror weapon; modern molecular biology is more capable than that. Imagine the killer sequences attached to some modern, highly infectious, adenovirus.

At a broader level it looks like Spanish Flu was an evolutionary loser. It evolved, it infected 50 million people, it killed them all and there was no next generation. So it disappeared from history, modulo the stupid cleverness of the human species.:yuck:
 
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  • #6
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More disturbing than computer viruses is having biological viruses genetically engineered for ultimate destructive capacity against humans in germ warfare.
 

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