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U.S. Continues Biological Warfare Research

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the die-mice-die dept.

Biotech 945

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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945 comments

hi (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7347188)

hello *sits down*

WHAT FOR ? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7347214)

Isn't Saddam dead ? Who are they gonna sell it to ?
Or wait... Maybe they'll ask their new state drop it onto Palestinians guinea pigs...

Seriously... (5, Insightful)

Evil Adrian (253301) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347190)

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... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7347270)

I guess you've never had to poison or trap mice then?

Re:Seriously... (2, Insightful)

hype7 (239530) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347276)

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 Australia, for instance, we have a wretched little (introduced) animal called the cane toad [google.com] . 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.

Secondly, putting a lid on any sort of research is bad. It might stop some, but it might also drive others underground. I'd rather it in some lab in the US than in some lab in Russia.

Finally, the US isn't the only country capable of developing these things. By taking obvious virii and genetically enhancing them, you can also start looking for cures and vaccines. None of the vaccines that presently exist work on this thing - so now, maybe we can do something about it.

-- james

Re:Seriously... (5, Funny)

gowen (141411) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347302)

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... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7347370)

To hell with em.

Re:Seriously... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7347347)

Secondly, putting a lid on any sort of research is bad.

Pete Townsend would agree with you [thesmokinggun.com] .

Re:Seriously... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7347299)

Something like this could be releasd into the wild when the lab is hit with conventional weapons during the invasion. Also an invasion would give people potential warning and time to escape with this virus that could cause a mass extinction. Nuke Saint Louis University Now.

Re:Seriously... (3, Insightful)

99bottles (257169) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347304)

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... (4, Insightful)

s20451 (410424) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347317)

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... (1)

meadowsp (54223) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347403)

Didn't it say that you can't defend against it, that the vaccines don't work?

Hyprocrisy. (0, Troll)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347322)

WMDs in the US, anybody?

Or doesn't it matter because they're the "good guys"?

Re:Seriously... (1)

TheWart (700842) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347325)

Admittedly, it is a very grey area, but the argument usually goes that we do this research so that we can then manufacture anti-dotes and vaccines, as it is probably just a matter of time before someone else figures out how to make this.

Unless I am mistaken, this is technically allowed under the BioWeapons treaty, and has served as a major loophole for many years (kinda like an inside joke in the intl. community). Therefore, such research is allowed, as it is "defensive" in nature.

Re:Seriously... (3, Insightful)

ComaVN (325750) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347425)

I'm pretty sure Syria would not be allowed by the US to perform this kind of research, not even for "defensive" reasons.

Re:Seriously... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7347326)

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

WTC, my friend ;-)

Re:Seriously... (1)

TyrranzzX (617713) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347334)

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 this protien into the rat when I put the virii in...."

*Rat gets real sick, then lives it's happy rat life sniffing stuff for years.*

Re:Seriously... (2, Funny)

geekmetal (682313) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347398)

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

Re:Seriously... (1)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347423)

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?

Biological Warfare !?! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7347193)

I'd rather get hit with an Anthrax bomb than try to install FreeBSD

Re:Biological Warfare !?! (0, Troll)

99bottles (257169) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347337)

Downloading mousepox ...er, um 4.9 right now!

FP (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7347197)

FP

Wow (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7347199)

I am stunned--simply stunned--that this article is devoid of Michael's add-on "the United States sucks, and this proves it, war mongerers!" garbage.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7347255)

I'm stunned nobody has stuck a cock in your mouth. You seriously look like that's what you want, you poor cock-starved hunk.

Excellent, just what we need... more ways to kill (0, Insightful)

youngerpants (255314) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347203)

And not only will we kell the enemy, but a virulent strain of smallpox could wipe us all out.

Bravo to these fellows, now how about working on a cure for cancer!

wow, not only did you not RTFA... (2, Insightful)

Adolf Oliver Bush (716951) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347272)

did you even read the blurb at the top of the page? and I quote: "The engineered virus is not contagious and does not affect humans"

even so..... lets say we did not work on this stuff at all.... sooner or later Osama or some Osama wannabe will get around to making something like this. I would rather we research it before he or anyone else does, so we might be able to counteract the effects. You create anti-venom from venom you know... same with vaccines against things like this.

Re:wow, not only did you not RTFA... (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347354)

Please mod parent up.

As distasteful as it is, it has to be done.

Re:wow, not only did you not RTFA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7347355)

Wow, not only did you...

Anywho. Seriously, as you said, at least look at the blurb. This particular nightmare killed even those critters who were vaccinated. Spooky stuff...

I Did RTFA... (1)

deadlinegrunt (520160) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347389)

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.

Cowpox infects people, but Buller says the IL-4 protein is species-specific and would not affect the human immune system. The experiments are being done at the second-highest level of biological containment.


My only concern is the simple fact:

Nothing is so simple that it can't be screwed up.

Re:wow, not only did you not RTFA... (1)

lovebyte (81275) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347419)

What if other countries do the same to "protect themselves from terrorists" too? Some probably do.

Aren't we all in deep shit then?

Re:Excellent, just what we need... more ways to ki (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7347308)

Technically, a fatal virus does cure cancer. You can't have cancer if your dead.

We need this (0, Troll)

Coulter, Ann (720298) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347205)

In order to stop people that are opposed to us, we can use germ warfare against them. No nation has any right to do this except the US, since we know best.

If Slarti Bardfast was right... (4, Funny)

Peter Cooper (660482) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347210)

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!

Re:If Slarti Bardfast was right... (2, Funny)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347277)

Yeah, we just better hope the mice don't ramp up their bioweapons team first... insta-death mice poop, strategically placed behind all of your cabinets and cupboards. Bad, bad voodoo.

Re:If Slarti Bardfast was right... (1)

NialScorva (213763) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347416)

Hanta virus was just the first strike...

Hello, Pot? (0)

big_groo (237634) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347211)

Kettle calling....

Re:Hello, Pot? (1)

notque (636838) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347321)

I thought the Pot called the Kettle black. If the Kettle is calling I'm sure he only wants to inform you how tired that joke is.

PETA...... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7347213)

Great, now the animal rights crazies have an excuse to go nuts. Not that they really need one...

Speaking of biohazards (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7347219)

*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_
g_______________________________________________g_ _
o_/_____\_____________\____________/____\_______o_ _
a|_______|_____________\__________|______|______a_ _
t|_______`._____________|_________|_______:_____t_ _
s`________|_____________|________\|_______|_____s_ _
e_\_______|_/_______/__\\\___--___\\_______:____e_ _
x__\______\/____--~~__________~--__|_\_____|____x_ _
*___\______\_-~____________________~-_\____|____*_ _
g____\______\_________.--------.______\|___|____g_ _
o______\_____\______//_________(_(__>__\___|____o_ _
a_______\___.__C____)_________(_(____>__|__/____a_ _
t_______/\_|___C_____)/_EAT__\_(_____>__|_/_____t_ _
s______/_/\|___C_____)___MY__|__(___>___/__\____s_ _
e_____|___(____C_____)\_SHIT_/__//__/_/_____\___e_ _
x_____|____\__|_____\\_________//_(__/_______|__x_ _
*____|_\____\____)___`----___--'_____________|__*_ _
g____|__\______________\_______/____________/_|_g_ _
o___|______________/____|_____|__\____________|_o_ _
a___|_____________|____/_______\__\___________|_a_ _
t___|__________/_/____|_________|__\___________|t_ _
s___|_________/_/______\__/\___/____|__________|s_ _
e__|_________/_/________|____|_______|_________|e_ _
x__|__________|_________|____|_______|_________|x_ _
*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_


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Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

Disturbing - but I support it (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7347220)

The engineered virus is not contagious and does not affect humans but the research has drawn some condemnation as being dangerous and unnecessary.

Sounds like the perfect weapon - kills Muslims but leaves humans alive. It's unfortunate but we *need* something like this. Too many innocent human lives have been destroyed by Islam already.

Re:Disturbing - but I support it (2, Insightful)

davFr (679391) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347256)

But it seems like they haven't a cure for your "shit-in-place-of-the-brain" disease. Sorry.

Re:Disturbing - but I support it (1)

jocknerd (29758) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347261)

Yeah, Christians have been much more civilized throughout history.

Re:Disturbing - but I support it (1)

ianjk (604032) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347359)

...And you wonder why people hate Americans?

Re:Disturbing - but I support it (1)

Cheapoboy (634792) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347394)

When did Toby Keith start reading /.? hell when did he start reading at all?

Don't worry... (5, Insightful)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 10 years ago | (#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... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7347372)

If I am not mistaken, Cowpox is what is used to immunize people against small pox, because it is so similar to smallpox.
This does not make me want to get vaccinated now...

wow, and i graduated from SLU med (5, Interesting)

puck01 (207782) | more than 10 years ago | (#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.

Re:wow, and i graduated from SLU med (2, Informative)

Davak (526912) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347320)

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!

Re:wow, and i graduated from SLU med (1)

Davak (526912) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347402)

Sorry to reply to my own message... but I just found some of Buller's old research as well. He's been playing with this stuff since 1993.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd= Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=7685412&dopt=Abstract [nih.gov]

Gamma interferon is shown to be critical in recovery of C57BL/6 mice from mousepox. Anti-gamma interferon treatment of mice infected in the footpad with ectromelia virus resulted in enhanced spread to and efficient virus replication in the spleen, lungs, ovaries, and, especially, liver. All treated, infected mice died within a mean of 7 days, 2.5 days earlier than mice with severe combined immunodeficiency that were given a comparable infection. On the other hand, alpha interferon appeared not to have a major role in controlling virus replication in tissues examined, and beta interferon was important for virus clearance in the liver and ovaries but not the spleen. Either anti-alpha, beta interferon or anti-beta interferon antibody therapy resulted in only 25% mortality. Infected control mice survived but showed persistence of ectromelia virus at the site of infection (the footpad) and transient presence of the virus in the spleen, liver, lungs, and ovaries and in the fibroreticular but not lymphoid cells of the draining popliteal lymph node. Depletion of gamma interferon but not alpha and/or beta interferon resulted in a significant reduction in the numbers of splenic T (especially gamma delta-TCR+), B, and Mac-1+ cells, although the proportion of Mac-1+ cells in the spleen increased compared with control values. Depletion of alpha, beta, or gamma interferons did not severely affect the generation of virus-specific cytotoxic T-lymphocyte responses or natural killer cell cytolytic activity. This study, in which a natural virus disease model was used, underscores the crucial importance of gamma interferon in virus clearance at all stages of infection and in all tissues tested except the primary site of infection, where virus clearance appears to be delayed.

Re:wow, and i graduated from SLU med (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7347417)

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 beg to differ. The really scary part is when a bunch of scientists work on deadly diseases and are "not sure why" something happens. That's when things can start to go horribly, horribly out of control.

Article (1, Informative)

Coulter, Ann (720298) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347231)

I hear that all these liberals on here might actually attack this web server by reloading the article multiple times, so I decided to copy it.

US develops lethal new viruses

19:00 29 October 03

Exclusive from New Scientist Print Edition. Subscribe and get 4 free issues.

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.

The new virus, which is about to be tested on animals, should be lethal only to mice, Mark Buller of the University of St Louis told New Scientist. He says his work is necessary to explore what bioterrorists might do.

But the research brings closer the prospect of pox viruses that cause only mild infections in humans being turned into diseases lethal even to people who have been vaccinated.

And vaccines are currently our main defence against smallpox and its relatives, such as the monkeypox that reached the US this year. Some researchers think the latest research is risky and unnecessary.

"I have great concern about doing this in a pox virus that can cross species," said Ian Ramshaw of the Australian National University in Canberra on being told of Buller's work.

Ramshaw was a member of the team that accidentally discovered how to make mousepox more deadly (New Scientist, 13 January 2001). But the modified mousepox his team created was not as deadly as Buller's.

No rebound

Since then, Ramshaw told New Scientist, his team has also created more deadly forms of mousepox, and has used the same method to engineer a more deadly rabbitpox virus.

But this research revealed that the modified pox viruses are not contagious, he says. That is good news in the sense that these viruses could not cause ecological havoc by wiping out mouse or rabbit populations around the world if they escaped from a lab.

However, this discovery also means some bioterrorists might be more tempted to use the same trick to modify a pox virus that infects humans. Such a disease, like anthrax, would infect only those directly exposed to it. It would not spread around the world and rebound on the attackers. But there is no guarantee that other pox viruses modified in a similar way would also be non-contagious.

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.

Maximised production

Now Buller has engineered a mousepox strain that kills 100 per cent of vaccinated mice, even when they were also treated with the antiviral drug cidofovir. A monoclonal antibody that mops up IL-4 did save some, however.

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.

Cowpox infects people, but Buller says the IL-4 protein is species-specific and would not affect the human immune system. The experiments are being done at the second-highest level of biological containment.

Nine-eleven

Ramshaw says there is no reason to do the cowpox experiments, as his group's work on rabbits has already shown the method works for other pox viruses. While viruses containing mouse IL-4 should not be lethal to humans, recombinant viruses can have unexpected effects, he says. "You'd hope the combination remains mouse-specific."

Why his group's engineered viruses are not contagious is a mystery, he says. It is not, for instance, because the host dies faster than usual, taking the virus with it. But his findings could explain why pox viruses containing IL-4 have never evolved naturally, even though the viruses frequently pick up genes that affect their host's immunity.

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.

Debora MacKenzie, Geneva

mice != rats !=? SCO (5, Funny)

millette (56354) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347235)

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.

Heavens to Betsy, not in the US!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7347237)

Because we all know that "free nations do not develop weapons of mass destruction." (direct quote from the unelected fraud, GW Bush).

If you read the article... (-1)

DrFlex (711207) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347238)

They also mutated the cowpox virus which affects humans in the same way.

How can this be moral? I wonder how thoses scientists feel while working on these bio-weapons...

Re:If you read the article... (1)

davFr (679391) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347316)

I think they certainly feel richer!:o) Richer than the anonymous scientists working on cancer cure, without Army fundings.

"which kills 100% of animals it infects" (1)

mirko (198274) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347240)

I was about to ask how many it infects, but I RTFA-ed.
So the answer is :
The new virus kills all mice even if they have been given antiviral drugs as well as a vaccine that would normally protect them.
i.e. : it kills them all.

(BTW: Tompox [tompox.com] has nothing to do with this virus.)

hrmm? (2, Interesting)

proj_2501 (78149) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347241)

how exactly did they find out that it doesn't affect humans?

Did someone slip some in some poor guy's drink?

Re:hrmm? (2, Funny)

AllUsernamesAreGone (688381) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347397)

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.

perl or python (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7347242)

Is python better than perl ?

yes (-1)

sirReal.83. (671912) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347247)

this is yet another case of the USA becoming/producing exactly what it is 'trying' to eliminate. i smell another cold war...

It's not like viruses ever mutate (4, Insightful)

colmore (56499) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347248)

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.

Re:It's not like viruses ever mutate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7347328)

Only in your tiny little paranoia-saturated mind could "Saint Louis University" transform into "the US military"

Re:It's not like viruses ever mutate (1)

colmore (56499) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347408)

At least read the first sentence of the article before you accuse me of not knowing what I'm talking about: "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." This was a defense contract.

Re:It's not like viruses ever mutate (1)

witte (681163) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347341)

erm... yes they do, actually.

not contagious (1)

Manos Batsis (608014) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347252)

The engineered virus is not contagious and does not affect humans

Last time I heard viruses used mutate.

Re:not contagious (1)

Manos Batsis (608014) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347283)

...and if I could mutate as well I would do so to genetically evolve to a typo-proof organism... of course I meant "used to mutate"

Re:not contagious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7347388)

sarcasm meter broken?

Why do we do this? (2, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347257)

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 something worse. This definitely strikes me as worse, and a lot harder to store safely than even all of the nuclear weapons that we have.

Biased Much? (1, Flamebait)

Necromancyr (602950) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347259)

Let's see...a researcher at a University is working with a strain of virus to develop better and stronger immunization agents. To do this he needs to figure out what he might be up against that terrorists might feasibly make. The ignorance of the poster, Michael, on science is glaring and obvious. The government funds tons of research every year - it's called grants. If you want to say they are funding bioweapons research look in military R&D labs, not in a University environment. Since the US has basically said they will not do bioweapons research, don't you think doing research in such a public way would be a bit obvious? I mean, getting a grant, publishing papers, etc. on this kind of obliterates the 'secrecy' that would be needed. And, part of the VAST majority of grant stipulations is that you must publish your results. Then again, the poster checked into all of this before making hs accusatory and 100% factual title right? Or...he at least read the article...right?

Re:Biased Much? (1)

JLyle (267134) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347399)

The ignorance of the poster, Michael, on science is glaring and obvious ... Then again, the poster checked into all of this before making hs accusatory and 100% factual title right?
Are you new here?

It is time for a Coalition of the Willing (-1, Flamebait)

ShieldWolf (20476) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347260)

This is unrefutable truth that George Bush is stockpiling Weapons of Mass Destruction, and he is seeking ever-more destructive tools of terror. How soon before he has a nuclear weapon, and has the rest of the world at his mercy? I think is time that a broad coalition, supported by the fact that he has falunted numerous U.N resultions, to remove this threat to world peace once and for all. If not for the gathering danger he represents, then at least to remove a vicious dictator who was not elected by the will of the people!

Re:It is time for a Coalition of the Willing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7347391)

Oh Yeah? Come and get us? What, you think not? Why am I not surprised.

Bad Idea (1)

Dr.Enormous (651727) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347263)

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?

Virus engineered by militant Vegans (1)

RunzWithScissors (567704) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347266)

So let me get this straight, we know have a virus that will kill animal life, but not humans. We have now engineered a way to kill off most of our food chain? I really fail to see why someone would want to do this.

Go Science!

-Runz

Re:Virus engineered by militant Vegans (1)

Manos Batsis (608014) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347415)

Are you a vegetarian or something?

Don't touch... (2, Funny)

Slendro (105066) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347267)

Don't touch them! These mice have been infected
with RAGE....

HRPUFNSTUF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7347268)

How could you guys not be grateful? Our country is going through a very difficult time right now. ZAP! Oh wait, i'm not american.

We have continuing this work for decades (4, Interesting)

BWJones (18351) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347273)

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.

Hello? Cynicism calling (1)

ynnaD (700908) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347275)

If it were discovered that North Korea, Iran, Syria or any country not currently "in" with the US was performing such research, they'd have been bombed, denounced and had their land divided up and sold to the highest bidder by now. Since it's papa US though, nothing can or will go wrong. This potentially lethal research will never be used for anything apart from stopping nasty TERRORISTS from destroying your FREEDOMS.

Disney (2, Funny)

The Angry Mick (632931) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347280)


I guess Disney needs to buy some SARS masks for Mickey and Minnie . . .

Animals could kill you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7347284)

Imagine yourself in Afrika and a terrorist Tiger could eat your ass.

Why do we do this? (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347285)

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?

Re:Why do we do this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7347343)

Dont as slashdot, but ask your representative in the government.

Re:Why do we do this? (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347400)

Do you notice the .co.uk at the end of my email address?
It's not my government.

Show me the weapons! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7347286)

I'd say we europeans invade the US, try to hunt down bush (and won't find him since he's obviously too small to notice anyway), overthrow the senate by putting all their pictures on a card game, and waste billions of tax payers money on rebuilding the country. /me wakes up from dreaming

how fast does it kill? (1)

jatencio (536080) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347289)

In the article, it says that even with a vaccine, the mice would still die and that it is not contagious. However, if it were modified to be contagious, how fast would it kill? If it kills too fast, then it will not spread and it really is not a big deal. If it can be transmitted before a carrier even before he or she knows that they have been infected and it is able to spread to other people quickly, then there would be cause for worry. Until then, I am not too worried.

Now, where did I leave my face mask and latex gloves? ummm...

Level 3 Lab (2, Informative)

Necromancyr (602950) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347298)

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 before you make ignorant news posts - particularly on the front page.

Hypocrites (1)

Bohdan (609921) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347313)

... and they are telling Korea to stop their nuclear program ... how pathetic

kills 100% of animals it infects? (0)

bcolflesh (710514) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347314)

What is the distinction between humans and animals again? - remorse for the outcome of their actions?

Hello? Cynicism calling. (2, Interesting)

ynnaD (700908) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347319)

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 FREEDOMS.

Viruses are not always bad... (5, Insightful)

Animaniac (719374) | more than 10 years ago | (#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.

Moral Implications (1)

Headius (5562) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347327)

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 think I could look my son in the face if this was the kind of work I did.

fark (1)

Lord Omlette (124579) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347342)

still no cure for cancer...

Biological Warfare research (1)

laosland (55769) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347350)

Although the fact that someone was able to do this is frightening to say the least, hopefully since we were able to do it first will give us a chance to develop a treatment (if there is one) before anyone else would have the chance to use it. If one person (or group) can develop this strain of virus then another group can also, after all. To do other is the equivalent to burying one's head in the ground and hope that since we haven't developed it, no one else will either.

Question... (1)

t4b00 (715501) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347356)

With continued research in such areas as creating biological weapons. Considering the eventualities of such efforts, What are the odds that something like this could escape the control of the lab environment and upset the ecosystem by destroying any arbitrary link in the food chain on a regional if not GLOBAL scale?

while I feel biological research is very important for curing disease and STOPING biological warfare. I think ANY efforts on the part of ANY governing body, to attempt to CREATE such threats should be (if it is not already) considered illegal. What does the international Community think about this?

My god (0, Troll)

Cheapoboy (634792) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347363)

"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." GOOD LORD! ARE THE TERRORISTS GOING TO BE PUTTING THIS SHIT ON BOXCUTTERS NOW?! DOES THEYRE EVIL HAVE NO END!

You want to know why? (0, Troll)

oni (41625) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347387)

Why is such research done? It's so that we'll understand how these things work. Should we wait until somebody releases a virus like this in a city and then say "wow, we've never seen anything like this before - we have absolutely no clue how it's making people sick." Or would you rather have them come forward and say "ya, we've actually seen this before - don't bother administering anti-viral medication, instead take this other medication."

Don't over react people. We aren't weaponizing this stuff. This is just the biological equivalent of bug traq.

A couple of people have tried to draw a comparison between the US doing this research and another country, say pre-war Iraq. It's amazing to me that anyone could be so stupid as to not see the difference. If Iraq has WMDs then Saddam holds all that power himself. He can kill on a whim. The president of the US cannot go to war without the support of congress and the American people. Congress funds the military and if they withhold the money there'll be no more fuel for the tanks and no more bullets for the guns. If Saddam decided to attack Iran, well that's it. Iraq attacks Iran. If Bush wakes up one morning and decides to invade Canada, he'd be impeached and run out of Washington. If you disagree with the war on Iraq (and you are an American) then you'll have your chance to vote Bush out in less than one year. If you didn't like Saddam you'd best keep your mouth shut - he'd drop you into a chipper shredder. I just can't believe that someone can't see the difference.

Next (1)

styxlord (9897) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347404)

Virus which only affects cats and dogs, somehow gets out of the lab and wipes them all out. We then start using apes for pets and ... oh crap.

Nothing New (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7347405)

This is nothing new. Using IL-4 in mousepox has been done already in 2001.

http://www.csis.org/tech/ssi/sonsw/s_shenk.pdf

God save us! (5, Funny)

Zygote-IC- (512412) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347409)

I hope this never gets in the wild. I would hate to have to switch to a damn trackball.
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