Ah, yes--USAMRID will be very happy it kept that
--- "Michael S. Lorrey" <email@example.com> wrote:
> John Marlow wrote:
> > Have no fear: "sitting around" is not my
> > The most worrisome thing to me is that it will
> > ultimately be politicians making the final
> > decisions--which are, of course, far too important
> > be left to politicians.
> Worry more: we don't need to wait for nanotech,
> normal biotech is
> already doing quite well all by accident. The
> following article details
> what sort of stuff can happen by accident. I frankly
> have more faith in
> the security of nanotech that is engineered from the
> ground up
> purposefully rather than depending on the hit and
> miss techniques of
> biologists today:
> Thursday, January 11 3:00 AM SGT
> Aussie scientists stumble across the Doomsday Bug
> PARIS, Jan 10 (AFP) -
> Australian gene engineers accidentally created a
> mouse virus that kills
> every one of its victims by wrecking their immune
> system, a discovery
> with the potential for
> making the ultimate terrorist weapon, New Scientist
> The killer bug was invented quite inadvertently,
> while the researchers
> were trying to create a contraceptive vaccine for
> mice as a pest
> control, the British weekly
> reports in next Saturday's issue.
> They inserted into a mousepox virus a gene that
> creates large amounts of
> interleukin 4 (IL-4), a naturally-occurring molecule
> that produces
> antibodies in the
> immune system.
> The idea was to stimulate antibodies to destroy eggs
> in female mice,
> thus making the rodents infertile.
> Mousepox, a close relation to smallpox, normally
> only causes mild
> symptoms among the type of mice being used in the
> study, and was only
> being used as a vehicle
> to deliver the IL-4.
> But when the IL-4 gene was inserted, the engineered
> virus ran amok,
> attacking the "cell-mediated response" -- the part
> of the immune system
> that fights viral
> infection. All the animals in the study were wiped
> out in just nine
> Worse, the engineered virus was astonishingly
> resistant to vaccines. A
> vaccine that would normally protect these mice from
> mousepox only worked
> in half of the
> mice exposed to the killer version.
> Co-researcher Ron Jackson, of the Canberra-based
> institute CSIRO, said
> the discovery was a frightening indicator of what
> could happen if the
> human smallpox
> virus was similarly modified.
> "It would be safe to assume that if some idiot did
> put human IL-4 into
> human smallpox, they'd increase the lethality quite
> dramatically," he
> told New Scientist.
> "Seeing the consequences of what happened in the
> mice, I wouldn't want
> to be the one to do the experiment."
> "It's surprising how very, very bad the virus is,"
> said Anne Hill, a
> vaccine experts from Oregon Health Sciences
> University in Portland,
> Smallpox has been eradicated as a disease thanks to
> a global vaccination
> campaign, although two laboratories -- one in the
> United States, the
> other in Russia --
> still have ampoules containing the virus, under an
> arrangement with the
> World Health Organisation (WHO).
> The incident highlights how easy it could be for
> some with
> bio-engineering knowledge to create a murderous
> virus for which there
> would be no cure or effective
> vaccine, New Scientist said.
> "Vast amounts of time and effort have gone into
> policing the military's
> use of biotechnology. But the activities of civilian
> biologists have
> been ignored," it said.
> "Yet genetic engineering techniques are now so
> widespread that
> potentially dangerous results are bound to emerge
> It suggests tougher vetting of research proposals; a
> greater effort to
> train students in biological subjects about
> potential dangers arising
> from lab work; and
> encouraging greater openness among biologists to
> discuss the misuse of
> genetic engineering.
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