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Virus Synthesized Using Bioinformatic Data
Submitted by J.W. Bizzaro; posted on Friday, July 12, 2002 (3 comments)
Submitter It's been all over the news today. From the BBC:

``The US researchers built the infectious agent from scratch using the genome sequence for polio.

``Scientists are divided about whether a virus is alive. For those that think it is, then this synthetic artefact would constitute a simple form of life.
[...]
``To construct the virus, the researchers say they followed a recipe they downloaded from the internet and used gene sequences from a mail-order supplier.

``Having constructed the virus, which appears to be identical to its natural counterpart, the researchers, from the University of New York at Stony Brook, injected it into mice to demonstrate that it was active.

``The animals were paralysed and then died.''

Full story:
[link]

So, should the genomic data of ``dangerous'' viruses and organisms be kept secret in order to prevent bioterrorism? Is this an argument in favor of closed-source bioinformatics? Chat amongst yourselves.

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the sum of all fears
Submitted by Mark Luo; posted on Friday, July 12, 2002
Submitter the sum of all fears is to create a brand new virus. that would be the end of us. steven king talked about this in a book, I think. but on the ohter hand, we could also produce a anti-virus agent more easily with this technoligy, right? let's put our focus on that, if you scared to dead. :) cheers mark



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the sum of all fears
Submitted by Mark Luo; posted on Friday, July 12, 2002
Submitter the sum of all fears is to create a brand new virus. that would be the end of us. steven king talked about this in a book, I think. but on the ohter hand, we could also produce a anti-virus agent more easily with this technoligy, right? let's put our focus on that, if you scared to dead. :) cheers mark
the sum of all fears
Submitted by J.W. Bizzaro; posted on Saturday, July 13, 2002
Submitter If you took a virus as lethal as Ebola and engineered into it the contagiousness of the Rhino virus (or common cold), could a cure even be devloped before it spread all over the world? But all this is assuming these parts are even compatible. Viruses are so small that relatively minor changes can completely alter their individual characters. It's not even like combining apples and oranges. It may be more like combining a door with a swimming pool--would hybrid be as useful as either one?
the sum of all fears
Submitted by Martin Kucej; posted on Saturday, July 13, 2002
Submitter Yes, I think such a simple chemical machines cannot be recombined easily. But each virus has a certain strategy. Let's say, it would be possible maybe combining these strategies. Like, binding and invading to more human cell types, knockin off immunity, resistance to air... I thought Ebola is very fast, thats why it will never be a global threat to the world. We know when the enemy is attacking us and cen defend ourselves. Unlike HIV, which waits years before it strikes, and we are unaware of anything wrong. That is much more dangerous, I think.

 

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