US develops lethal new viruses: New Scientist

  • #1
Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,213
175

Main Question or Discussion Point

A scientist funded by the US government has deliberately created an extremely deadly form of mousepox, a relative of the smallpox virus, through genetic engineering.

The new virus kills all mice even if they have been given antiviral drugs as well as a vaccine that would normally protect them.

The work has not stopped there. The cowpox virus, which infects a range of animals including humans, has been genetically altered in a similar way.
http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99994318
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Monique
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
4,149
64
Nothing new, right? Scientists earlier, about 1-1.5 yrs ago had made smallpox from scratch, using reagents ordered from the internet biosciences companies.

Oh, wait, these are NEW strains of viruses, thats really bad news.. but research in the field is required to gain more knowledge of what is possible, to be prepared when an enemy releases such an engineered virus. With prepared I mean not to counter launch a biological attack, but rather to quickly assess whether it is a natural virus or not and how best to treat it.
 
  • #3
Monique
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
4,149
64
I just wonder, what is done with research results? Do they get published? Is it confidential and highly classified information? It doesn't seem so, in the article they even give out the recipe:

The researchers modified the mousepox virus by adding a gene for a natural immunosuppressant called IL-4, expecting this would boost antibody production.

Instead, the modified mousepox virus was far more lethal, killing 60 per cent of vaccinated mice. The addition of IL-4 seems to switch off a key part of the immune system called the cell-mediated response.
and

His team "optimised" the virus by placing the IL-4 gene in a different part of the viral genome and adding a promoter sequence to maximise production of the IL-4 protein, he told a biosecurity conference in Geneva last week.

Buller has also constructed a cowpox virus containing the mouse IL-4 gene, which is about to be tested on mice at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland.
Yeah, very smart, tell all the bioterrorist (which they are trying to outsmart) to which conferences to go and which facilities to get all the necessary information to replicate the work.. yeah, very smart..
 
  • #4
138
0
US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland and all the region seems to be a dangerous place to live.
Also Mr. Murphy lives there, the guy from Murphy's law, remember?
 
  • #5
138
0
Originally posted by Monique
Yeah, very smart, tell all the bioterrorist (which they are trying to outsmart) to which conferences to go and which facilities to get all the necessary information to replicate the work.. yeah, very smart..
Indeed ... and tell him where to drop his plane.
This all is like kids playing with fire ...
 
  • #6
Monique
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
4,149
64
Originally posted by pelastration
US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland and all the region seems to be a dangerous place to live.
Also Mr. Murphy lives there, the guy from Murphy's law, remember?
Anything that CAN go wrong WILL go wrong.. yes, I've personally verified the correctness of that statement with my experimentations.. it's right.
 
  • #7
138
0
hum ... an unlocked freezer :/ Murphy?

USDA Report: Better Security Necessary at Labs
Tue 18 November, 2003 23:37
http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsArticle.jhtml?type=scienceNews&storyID=3847665&section=news [Broken]

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Department of Homeland Security should establish strict security guidelines for all government-funded U.S. laboratories that conduct research on deadly viruses, bacteria and chemical agents, U.S. Agriculture Department investigators said on Tuesday.

The USDA's Office of Inspector General said it found dozens of research labs, mostly located at public universities, that were vulnerable to theft because of lax security and incomplete record keeping.

"Without a standard minimum level of security, there is a potential that laboratories could experience unauthorized entries and that the loss or theft of high consequence pathogens could go undetected," the report said.

With several federal agencies providing grants to many of the same research labs, the report recommended that the Homeland Security Department create one set of security rules for institutions that handle high risk agents.

Between July and September 2002, USDA investigators visited 104 laboratories at 11 sites and found many lacking alarm systems and surveillance cameras.

At one institution, a science lecturer had stored seven vials of an agent that can cause pneumonic plague, an airborne pathogen that can kill all infected people within 48 hours, in an unlocked freezer. The freezer had contained other dangerous pathogens that could not be accounted for, the report said.

The scientist said the vials were destroyed in September 2002.

Thomas Butler, a university professor at Texas Tech University, is on trial accused of lying to federal agents about 30 missing vials of bubonic plague bacteria.

USDA officials were not immediately available to comment on whether the two cases were the same.

In the report, the USDA said it agreed with the recommendations. It has started discussions with the Homeland Security Department on implementing a minimum security standard.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #8
Cattle Abductions

Posted by Ivan Seeking:
“The cowpox virus, which infects a range of animals including humans, has been genetically altered in a similar way.”

These experiments have nothing to do with bioterrorism or the development of biological weapons of mass-destruction. Nothing. The smallpox virus is of alien origin and has long been a "puzzle" to the greatest scientists involved in the mutations of its original code. I'm a bit surprised that they have finally admitted the cowpox link to humans. Cattle/humans.
 

Related Threads on US develops lethal new viruses: New Scientist

  • Last Post
Replies
16
Views
5K
  • Last Post
Replies
22
Views
32K
  • Last Post
Replies
5
Views
3K
Replies
29
Views
4K
Replies
9
Views
2K
Replies
4
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
11
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
11
Views
2K
  • Poll
  • Last Post
2
Replies
34
Views
11K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
40
Views
9K
Top