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Biotech Science

U.S. Continues Biological Warfare Research 945

Posted by michael
from the die-mice-die dept.
merryprankster writes "Researchers at Saint Louis University have engineered a strain of mouse-pox virus which kills 100% of animals it infects - even when the mice have been treated with vaccination and anti-virals. The deadliness of the virus is related to the addition of a protein IL-4 which shuts down cell-mediated immune response. The engineered virus is not contagious and does not affect humans but the research has drawn some condemnation as being dangerous and unnecessary."
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U.S. Continues Biological Warfare Research

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  • Seriously... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Evil Adrian (253301) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @11:03AM (#7347190) Homepage
    Seriously, what is the point of engineering something like this?

    If it was another country's research team we'd probably be invading by now...
    • Re:Seriously... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by hype7 (239530)

      Seriously, what is the point of engineering something like this?

      If it was another country's research team we'd probably be invading by now...

      Maybe that's true, but assuming there are adequate (and they'd need to be big for something like this) security measures in place, developing biological weapons like this is not necessarily the terrible thing(TM) that it sounds like.

      First off, there's a lot that is learned. Virologists may learn how to accurately target certain areas of different entities. Here in

      • by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Thursday October 30, 2003 @11:12AM (#7347302) Homepage Journal
        Here in Australia, for instance, we have a wretched little (introduced) animal called the cane toad. If a virus like this could be engineered such that it would kill them all out, I'd say it's not such a bad thing.
        I'd say its a pretty bad thing for the cane toad...
        • Re:Seriously... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by BigBadDude (683684)

          Thats the most STUPID SHIT i have read omn slashdot [today]....

          Lets "introduce" the virus to the cane toad. Dont you people never learn?

          So why did you guys "introduced" the toads in the first place??
      • Re:Seriously... (Score:2, Insightful)

        by JamesTRexx (675890)
        It might be an idea to develop something that only affects one sort of animal, but in reality that virus wil mutate and infect other species as well. This is just how nature works.
        And I'm not so sure if it is safer in the US than in Russia. Money greedy people are everywhere.
      • by operagost (62405) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @11:30AM (#7347549) Homepage Journal
        For decimating our pigeon population, and making Springfield a less oppressive place to while away our worthless lives, I present you with this scented candle.

        % Away from the speech, Skinner and Lisa talk.

        Skinner: Well, I was wrong. The lizards are a godsend.
        Lisa: But isn't that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we're overrun by lizards?
        Skinner: No problem. We simply release wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They'll wipe out the lizards.
        Lisa: But aren't the snakes even worse?
        Skinner: Yes, but we're prepared for that. We've lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.
        Lisa: But then we're stuck with gorillas!
        Skinner: No, that's the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.
      • Re:Seriously... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sk8king (573108)
        The cane toad is no doubt a bad thing, but one of the biggest threats we can possibly face is ACCIDENTALLY producing a self replicating "entity" that in an evolutionary sense will destroy us. Bill Joy from Sun microsystems had a good article/interview/something and in it he mentioned a threat far worse that Nuclear/chemical weapons. Any self-replicating being/thing could very easily get out of control.

        I don't know about the cane toad but I don't think it kills 100% of the beings it comes in contact with
        • by gfxguy (98788) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @11:48AM (#7347752)
          Maybe for the specific case of wiping out a specific species, this is not such a good thing. I'd like to know what effect it'll have on, for example, the vultures and the like that would eat the dead toads.

          But there are other parts of his argument that are very valid:
          The deadliness of the virus is related to the addition of a protein IL-4 which shuts down cell-mediated immune response.
          It'd be nice to think that they are working on a way to defeat this protein so that when somebody creates a human version, we'll have something to defend against it.

          Overall, though, it would be nice to just stop this kind of development anywhere and everywhere, so that we wouldn't have to think that way. But this is reality. I really have mixed feelings about it.

          On the one hand, another poster was right in that if we found, for example, Iran doing this, we'd be all over them for it. On the other hand, Iran and other countries are biological research anyway, so we might as well prepare for it.

          These are the things that scare me (from the article):
          • 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.
          • The new virus, which is about to be tested on animals, should be lethal only to mice... [emphasis mine]
          • While viruses containing mouse IL-4 should not be lethal to humans, recombinant viruses can have unexpected effects, he says. [emphasis mine]
          • Why his group's engineered viruses are not contagious is a mystery, he says. [that scares me - they are guessing here]

          • the vultures and the like that would eat the dead toads.

            I think I can safely say that absolutely nothing in Australia eats dead cane toads. Or if they do they only do it once.

            By the way I thought an Australian University team had done similar work on a mouse virus a couple of years ago..Anyone know of that research.

      • Re:Seriously... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by nizo (81281) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @11:40AM (#7347661) Homepage Journal
        ... wretched little (introduced) animal called the cane toad. If a virus like this could be engineered such that it would kill them all out, I'd say it's not such a bad thing.


        Actually, the reason you have cane toads in the first place is they were introduced to combat the cane grub. In the end however they seem to be great for killing just about everything except the cane grub. The moral of the story? While we may have good intentions when introducing something new to an environment to control a pest, we may also be introducing new, even worse problems unintentionally. Are you sure you would want a man-made virus that is capable of wiping out an entire species introduced into your country?

        • Re:Seriously... (Score:5, Informative)

          by hype7 (239530) <u3295110@@@anu...edu...au> on Thursday October 30, 2003 @11:45AM (#7347720) Journal
          Are you sure you would want a man-made virus that is capable of wiping out an entire species introduced into your country?


          They already exist, but rarely are they capable of killing entire species. They're either too efficient (kill too fast), not efficient enough (one area dies out, and by the time it's moved on uninfected animals move back into the old area), or the animals develop a resistance to it.

          See: myxomatosis [google.com], calicivirus [google.com].

          -- james
      • Re:Seriously... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Sgt_Jake (659140)
        You missed the part that I think is probably the most important - by learning how many ways you can manipulate the genes and what effects they produce, you're far more capable of coming up with vaccines and treatments that will combat full ranges of variations. In which case, when some nut bag releases a doomsday virus they won't have to waste nearly as much time trying to narrow down exactly how THIS germ behaves, they can tweak a class of inoculations to combat the majority of the outbreak.

        Short answer,
    • Re:Seriously... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 99bottles (257169)
      The article notes, "He says his work is necessary to explore what bioterrorists might do."

      If research was stopped everytime someone asked "why?", there wouldn't be much done at all.
    • Re:Seriously... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by s20451 (410424) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @11:12AM (#7347317) Journal
      The point of researching these things is to not get caught with your pants down when someone else invents it. Now that this strain of smallpox has been developed, the scientists can determine how to protect against it.

      Examining one scientific study or result out of context usually misses the point of the overall body of research. For example, several congressmen have been campaigning against studies into sexual deviancy that have been funded with federal money. However, these studies are critical to understanding how diseases like HIV spread.
      • Re:Seriously... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nukeade (583009)
        Agreed! When the British banned civilian explosives research, it did nothing but make sure the Germans could be extra devastating when the war rolled around. As evil as the research sounds, they are being open and therefore hopefully responsible about it. This could lead to a breakthrough new treatment that would defend us against the new, evil bioweapons that some are developing elsewhere (North Korea).

        ~Ben
      • Re:Seriously... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Luyseyal (3154) <swatersNO@SPAMluy.info> on Thursday October 30, 2003 @11:30AM (#7347548) Homepage
        Blockquoth the poster:

        The point of researching these things is to not get caught with your pants down when someone else invents it.

        This is the North Korean and Iranian logic as well: "Let us research nuclear technology so we do not get caught with our pants down, lest the Americans invade." Indeed, having nuclear technology could prevent an American invasion.

        This is just one tack. If North Korea, Iran, etc. just wanted to embarrass the crap out of the U.S., they could stop (or never start... whatever) their programs and retort: "We have put down our weapons. Now put down yours."

        And of course no one in the major media would pick it up and Americans will continue to wage their "humanitarian wars."

        cynical today,
        -l

    • Well, kinda like how you learn about what the hell a computer and what it does.

      "what does this part do"

      *smash*

      "oh, it doesn't work, what does this part do?"

      *Smash*

      "oh, that doesn't work, ok. what happens if I take out this capaciter"

      *sizzle*

      Accept it's more like:

      "What does this strand do if I add it here?"

      *wipes out all the rats it infects, even for antibiotics*

      "What happens if I add this protien on here?"

      *all the rats develope smallpox and die*

      "Ok, so what if I induce
    • I am so happy to hear this, there is such huge problem of runaway mice around here!

      Next project: Create virus to kill all morons

    • Raticide! Change this so it's contagious and then throw the results into a New York City Dumpster. Every rat in the world will be dead inside of a month. Remember the rats carried the fleas that carried the black plage that wiped out a fourth of Europe in Medieval times. It's time for revenge! Wonder if this strain affects politicians too?
    • yeah, like what's the point of engineering a nuclear chain reaction?

      clearly it can -only- be used to kill people.

      it couldn't posibly have -any- benefit to the furtherance of understanding of the science, the basic forces at work, defenses, peaceful applications, etc.

      -- sarcasm is the order of the day
    • Re:Seriously... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Davak (526912)
      The overlooked thing here is that it does have potential to help control immune-responsive diseases.

      These findings demonstrate the effectiveness of IL-4 for the inhibition of powerful cell-mediated immune reactions and suggest strategies potentially useful for the control of deleterious immune responses, such as autoimmune reactions.

      These studies show that IL-4 plays a huge role in moderating the immune cascade. Diseases from rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, sepsis... and even probably cancer and heart di
  • by Peter Cooper (660482) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @11:04AM (#7347210) Homepage Journal
    which kills 100% of animals it infects - even when the mice have been treated with vaccination and anti-virals

    Finally, we can destroy our mice overlords!
  • Don't worry... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DrEldarion (114072) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @11:05AM (#7347222)
    Yeah, don't worry, it doesn't infect humans.

    Er, wait.

    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.

    Uh-oh.
    • Re:Don't worry... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mahbidness (641513)
      The cowpox virus is what we use to immunize against smallpox. If it could be altered in such a way, it would likely render our current vaccinations obsolete. What I find interesting is that the cowpox virus is a live virus, not inactivated like most others, and is administered as such. The vaccinee experiences all the associated symptoms, albeit localized to the vaccination site, which is carefully dressed with gauze and transparent op-sites to prevent spread. If this new strain is engineered to be fata
  • by puck01 (207782) * on Thursday October 30, 2003 @11:06AM (#7347230)
    I graduated from St. Louis University Med school last spring and I had a friend in the grad program there who had mentioned to me several times they messed with some really deadly viruses that they had created. I always figured she was exaggerating....guess not.

    The interesting thing about this, according to the article, is the IL-4 gene gives the virus its potency, but at the same time keeps it from being contagious. Apparently, they are not sure why. Sounds like the real scary part will be once they figure that out and someone figures out a work around.
    • Read some of the research for yourself:

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd= Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=11152493&dopt=Abstrac t [nih.gov]

      Don't accept the media's spin on things!
    • Sounds like the real scary part will be once they figure that out and someone figures out a work around.

      Well, think of it this way: the world is basically a huge biological laboratory, with viruses being created by mutation and experimented with by natural selection. A mutation leading to a work around would be a huge advantage, yet in hundreds of millions of years of animal virus evolution, none has been discovered. Likely there is something fundamental that prevents such a deadly strain from occurring
    • The interesting thing about this, according to the article, is the IL-4 gene gives the virus its potency, but at the same time keeps it from being contagious. Apparently, they are not sure why. Sounds like the real scary part will be once they figure that out and someone figures out a work around.

      I don't know--sounds like it might be really useful to know what tricks can be used to decrease the infectiousness of diseases. What biochemical pathway does IL-4 screw up that limits transmission? Can we make

  • by millette (56354) <robin@millett[ ]nfo ['e.i' in gap]> on Thursday October 30, 2003 @11:07AM (#7347235) Homepage Journal
    Don't jump the gun thinking this might be a solution to the sco problem. The article is quite clear: it only affects mice, not rats.
  • hrmm? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by proj_2501 (78149) <mkb@ele.uri.edu> on Thursday October 30, 2003 @11:07AM (#7347241) Journal
    how exactly did they find out that it doesn't affect humans?

    Did someone slip some in some poor guy's drink?
    • They tried it on RIAA officials and it didn't work. Of course, the flaw in their theory was that RIAA officials are humans.

      Or, more seriously, they probably tried using it on human cell cultures to see what happened. Maybe.
  • by colmore (56499) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @11:07AM (#7347248) Journal
    Don't worry folks, viruses never mutate. There's no chance that a non-contageous virus could become airborne or bloodborne, and there's absolutely no way it could start affecting people. The fact that the US military has created a vaccine proof superbug with a 100% kill rate shouldn't bother anyone.
    • If we presume that this is a likely step on the road of technology, it should be obvious why we do not find evidence of civilization beyond our planet.
  • Why do we do this? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TWX (665546)
    It's one thing to experiment and end up going somewhere with it accidently, and it's another thing to research such directions in order to make vaccines and better treatments if one fears that one's enemies will attack with such, but creating something like this just seems stupid. Even if this particular agent doesn't strike humans, what's to say that the next one won't be capable?

    We've use two nuclear weapons in the course of history, and we've never needed to use them again. I don't want us to use so
  • This seems a monumentally bad idea. Even if you accept a need for weaponized biologicals (the logical extension of this), they don't do you any good unless you have a way to immunize your own guys.

    To say nothing of the fact that we're practically giving North Korea the ability to wipe out our entire mouse population in one fell swoop. What will we do without the mice, dammit?
  • by Slendro (105066)
    Don't touch them! These mice have been infected
    with RAGE....
  • by BWJones (18351) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @11:09AM (#7347273) Homepage Journal
    Come on now. This is nothing new. The U.S. has been conducting biological warefare research for years with no abatement as evidenced by a number of facilities in the west desert of Utah, and high level facilities all over the U.S. I should add that the U.S. is not the only country doing this, but given the cost of biological research, we are most likely at the forefront. Why do you think that the DOD has been so interested in AIDS research? As much as I would like to believe that the Whitehouse's goals and ambitions for AIDS work are good, there are obvious biological questions that are being examined with respect to induced autoimmune deficiency. There are many other potential viral and bacterial questions that could also inform biowarefare research as well.

  • Disney (Score:2, Funny)


    I guess Disney needs to buy some SARS masks for Mickey and Minnie . . .
  • Why must we find new and more efficient ways to kill the whole world? Information, once known, is like a genie out of a bottle. It's only going to end up with more and more people knowing about it. Unless you kill everyone that knows about it, and destroy all papers, it's a one-way slope.
    This is like having an argument with Russians when they say, "Aaaah, but we've got more nukes than you have." Seriously, what's the point?
  • Level 3 Lab (Score:2, Informative)

    by Necromancyr (602950)
    Just to be clear on another point, the lab is Bio-Level 3 - NOT level 4. If this thing could infect humans and cause some kind of serious catastrophe it would be in a Bio-Level 4 lab (there are only a handful, and no one of them is NOT at this university. There are a TON of regulations and checks you need to go through and keep up with to even get to Level 3 (nothing goes in/out of your lab without being autoclaved for one. There's an autoclave in your lab WALL to the outside!).

    Please get educated befo

  • by ynnaD (700908)
    If it were discovered that it was North Korea, Syria, or any other nation currently on US's private hate list was performing this research (even if the research was being performed IN the country, unsupported by government funding) then that country would have been bombed, "freed", and had it's land cut into strips and sold to the highest bidder by now.

    Sadly, since this is papa US with the research, nothing can go wrong. This will only be used for catching nasty evil TERRORISTS intent on stealing your FREE
  • by Animaniac (719374) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @11:13AM (#7347324)
    The deadliness of the virus is related to the addition of a protein IL-4 which shuts down cell-mediated immune response.

    Wow, just wow! I can't believe people don't realize how useful this is, and how off base the news poster really is. It was not developed to become a means to kill people. Being able to deactivate the entire immune system with a virus is such a huge leap forward. Now we can see how various biological processes work in the absence of the immune system. We have never been able to supress the immune system on this level. We can learn what functions definately need the immune system, gain new insight into autoimmune disease, and so on. Science always advances by altering or eliminating a variable and observing what happens to the others. I'm sure this sounds awfully familiar to all you CS people who spend hours debugging. Next time think before jumping to the OMG DEY R TEH Ev1L!!!11 conclusion.
  • I'm not going to say I'm the most moral person in the world, but really guys, how can any scientist justify working on something like this? I have to think that, given the opportunity, I would turn down the opportunity to engineer a mega-virus capable of killing all life (or all of a particular kind of life) without any antiviral agent being simultaneously developed. What can these guys possibly be thinking when they wake up in the morning, head off to work, and gleefully create the next ice-nine [hypertextbook.com]?

    I don't t
  • still no cure for cancer...
  • by Zygote-IC- (512412) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @11:19AM (#7347409) Homepage
    I hope this never gets in the wild. I would hate to have to switch to a damn trackball.
  • by Marc Desrochers (606563) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @11:30AM (#7347544)
    Is it just me, or is the US acting more and more like a rogue nation? Who draws the line, and when?
  • From the article (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Diabolical (2110) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @11:31AM (#7347567) Homepage
    Despite the concerns, work on lethal new pox viruses seems likely to continue in the US. When members of the audience in Geneva questioned the need for such experiments, an American voice in the back boomed out: "Nine-eleven". There were murmurs of agreement.

    What has 9/11 to do with this? Could this virus have prevented the attack? Or any biological/chemical weapon for that matter?

    9/11 has been used as an excuse for too long now to have any real meaning.

    Americans have given up alot of privacy for nothing (as most allready know). The rest of the world has been ordered by the USA to change identification documents or face economical consequences, hand over flight information (including information which has nothing to do with the possibility of being a terrorist), Iraq have been invaded with this as an excuse whil everyone and their mother know right now that there has been no evidence of Iraq being involved with 9/11 and people are still being bombarded with laws and organisations that are supposedly to stop another attack.
    • by MosesJones (55544)

      No no no... 9/11 is the excuse for everything..

      Have a poor economy at home, need to invade... 9/11. Need a "bogeyman" ... 9/11... can't find him well 9/11 another chap.

      The US remains the nation that has deployed WMDs against the most civilians. It remains the nation that refused to sign the chemical and biological non-proliferation treaty.

      9/11 justifies everything. In the same was as Oklahoma didn't justify cracking down on the far-right.
    • by Silvers (196372) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @11:53AM (#7347814)
      I equate this to computer security releases. Would you rather be fully disclosed about a potential security hole or would you rather live in ignorance?

      These kinds of things need to be researched. Mainly because the cost of creating these is becoming lower and lower. Would you rather have no research done on how to protect against these? For those of you thinking the US would actually weaponize this stuff, I suggest a full body tinfoil suit.
  • by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @11:38AM (#7347644) Journal
    The full text of the 2001 paper

    Jackson, R. J., A. J. Ramsay, C. D. Christensen, S. Beaton, D. F. Hall, and I. A. Ramshaw. 2001. Expression of mouse interleukin-4 by a recombinant ectromelia virus suppresses cytolytic lymphocyte responses and overcomes genetic resistance to mousepox. J. Virol. 75:1205-1210


    is available for your enjoyment [asm.org].
  • by greenhide (597777) <jordanslashdot AT cvilleweekly DOT com> on Thursday October 30, 2003 @12:01PM (#7347892)
    From the article:

    Ramshaw's team made its initial discovery while developing contraceptive vaccines for sterilising mice and rabbits without killing them. 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.


    Okay. For all of you going on and on about how useful this research for preventing bioterrorism, keep in mind that this is not at all the original intent of the researchers.

    They were trying to make an contagious but non-lethal virus whose sole function was to serve as a contraceptive. Instead, they ended up creating a highly lethal, non contagious virus.

    Granted, it is difficult to know exactly what the effect of mutating or altering viruses will be on the animals they're introduced into, but this is sort of my point.

    If you try modifying a virus to make it non-lethal, and it turns out to be lethal for most of your test subjects, it is not a good idea to to say, "Wow! Let's see what happens when we try that in *another* virus!"

    Since they don't know why the introduction of IL-4 made the viruses non-transferable, they probably don't know enough about this virus modification to assume that other strains won't be contagious when it's introduced.
    • ESR said it best: The road to hell is paved by good intentions. However you can tell genuine evil by it's methods.

      I keep wondering of we are at the same point with bio-engineering today that we were with chemistry in the last 19th century. People were doing some amazing things, that turned out to be deadly things in the next century. Look at Nobel and TNT.

  • I see (Score:3, Interesting)

    by aliens (90441) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @12:05PM (#7347950) Homepage Journal
    Sooo, when a engineered weapon only kills 80% of its victims and maims another 15% it's ok.

    100% DEATH RATE?????? WHAT YOU THINKING YOU INHUMAN BASTARDS.

    Gimme a break. It's all evil.
  • by JohnnyCannuk (19863) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @12:38PM (#7348340)
    ...is not that some scientists at some univeristy did this. Read "The Demon in the Freezer" or "The Hot Zone" - this kind of thing has been done a few times before. The Austrailians did this a few years ago as part of research to wipe out the mouse population in their country (which was a foriegn species that was introduced and threw off the dlicate balance of nature on an island continent). This is old news.

    What is scary is how powerful this is and how easy it is to do.

    It is powerful because it engineers a new virus or bacterium by mixing genes/DNA from other species to magnify it's effect. It's easy because, although the article doesn't mention it, it can be accomplished by someone with a University level of Biochem knowledge and a $100 USD kit that is sold to undergraduate students. Previouslyu this was ignored because it was thought that to get a really powerful pathogen was difficult so this technique could not be used to make really nasty weapons.

    Then they began realizing that not all of the Smallpox stockpile could be acounted for. Then they realized that viruses like AIDS (originally only infected Chimps and other primates)and Ebola (Ebola Zaire, the most deadly strain, mutated to become airborne - but the strain only infected monkeys this time - a strain called Ebola Reston) could mutate and jump the species barrier. Same with prions like BSE (becomes CJD in humans).

    Suddenly "mousepox" or "cowpox" seem like they could be very dangerous, if mutated naturally and enhanced artificially. It could become a serious weapon because it is transformed into a Chimera - natural pathogen DNA and DNA from a spoecies it would not normally mix with.

    Back in the cold war, the Russians made such a Chimera that as a weapon could have devastaing results. According to Frontline, a Russian bioweapons scientist (who now works for us, thank god...not all of them do) combined Legionella (the bacteria in air conditioners that causes the pnuemonia-like Legionaires Disease) with Myolin. The result was a flu that went away after a few days. You seemed well but then die extremely quickly when your own immune system attacks and destroys the myolinear sheath around you neurons...and because it is in a common bacteria, it is undetectable by a doctor.

    Imagine someone creating that combination with a more virulent/contagious pathogen?

    That being said, if this is what we are hearing about - a non-contagious, 100% lethal virus at a university - imagine what is being done in secret for "national security" reasons....

    All that to say that while I think this kind of research is good if used for treatment and research to prevent them being used as weapons, I also think that it should be done under the auspices of WHO, not the US government or any other government. Have Universities do the reasearch, but do it openly with funding and supervision of scientists and authorities from all over the world. The UN is perfect for this. That way everyone can have warning and everyone can benefit from the research.

    Otherwise we risk the start of a biological arms race...and then the whole planet could lose.

  • Shit happens... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by praedor (218403) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @04:27PM (#7351314) Homepage

    My first reply was to those who scream about the US violating this or that law, etc. It is NOT illegal to do bioweapon research for the purpose of defense (protective vaccines, treatment drugs, protective clothing). Weaponization and largescale production would be a violation. That said, this particular research was happenstance. Sheer good/bad luck. Trying something totally unrelated to bioweapons research and simply in the realm of bioremediation to try to control populations of rodents. Piff! A rather logical argument for adding IL-4 to increase antibody production instead leads to making the minor virus about as deadly (for rodents) as Marburg virus is for humans (60% fatality rate). Wasn't intended for weapons, wasn't even predicted. Shit happens and it is interesting.

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