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Resurrecting past plagues

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posted on Sep, 20 2004 @ 01:38 PM
University of Washington scientists plan to infect monkeys with a killer flu virus grown from tissue exhumed from victims of a 1918 epidemic. Link

Wow. I didnít know they could do that. I knew DNA can be recovered from dead animals, and that there is some talk of eventually cloning extinct species, but I had no idea a virus could be identified in dead tissue and brought back to life. But this has now been done. Viral DNA was recovered from the exhumed bodies of those killed in the 1918 pandemic. Most of the DNA came from those who had died in northern latitudes where the permanently frozen ground had preserved viral DNA.

And this is not just any virus:
"This was the most deadly infectious disease in the history of mankind, killing at least 40 million people," said Dr. Michael Katze. "To this day, nobody understands why the virus was so deadly."

It kind of makes you wonder if this is such a good idea.
A skeptic of resurrecting and enlivening the 1918 flu virus, however, said it is critical to first make sure we are adequately protected against creating a "man-made" pandemic.
"This project could create a new bug that infects someone in the lab who then walks out at the end of the day and, literally, kills tens of millions of people," said Ed Hammond, director of a biotechnology and bio-weapons watchdog organization.

Apparently there is also some controversy over the level of bio-containment needed to work with the virus. Flu virus generally isnít considered too dangerous, so there are no national laboratory standards for dealing with this particular virus.

I sure hope they know what theyíre doing.

posted on Oct, 3 2004 @ 10:15 PM
Anytime a virus is revived for the sake of research, i get a little nervous.

Medically, I know that research is crucial to win the fight for cancer, alzheimers, etc., but if this super-flu strain were to sneak out of the lab- which can happen easier than you might thing- how would we fight it off?

any strain of a virus can eventually mutate into a "super" strain, and exposing a super strain of the bat can only lead to catastrophe...


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