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Man-made supervirus?
for the science nerds out there!


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28 replies to this topic

#1 Liv_FERAL_sh

Posted 21 December 2011 - 11:27 AM

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/...1221-1p4mz.html

So judging by this story some crazy scientists have made a 'super-bug' that could 'wipe-out millions' and they need to be STOPPED!!!

Having not seen the research or the paper I'm not 100% sure about what they've done. I'm assuming they've cloned in some entry proteins into the H5N1 genome to enable transmission between species. If this is the case, this is something that is done in labs all over the world on a daily basis!

I'm not convinced that 'terrorists' would find these findings any more useful than those published daily in scientific journals! My own research was using herpes viruses to deliver the low density lipoprotein receptor for gene therapy...it's a very small leap from that to superbug!

So, do you agree with the americans or do you think this sort of censorship will do more harm than good?

disclaimer - I'm hoping that this might just be a logical discussion about the science and not some 50 pager thread about how there are terrorists under every bed waiting to kill us as we sleep...of course I realise that a discussion about science will probably attract three posts including my OP and my reply!!

Edit...I've just found this...Gwenda Kwek should be ashamed of herself...'cell-juice giving birth to live virus' for pity's sake, I think I'm stupider for having read this!

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/...1206-1og76.html

Edited by Livsh, 21 December 2011 - 11:30 AM.


#2 Feraldadathome

Posted 21 December 2011 - 11:32 AM

From the way the issue is being reported I am disqioeted about this - both formt he perspective of freedom of scientific enquiry and the perceived risk to the community at large.

On the one hand we have the jumpy at shadows US security authorities that I don't trust to make sensible risk assessments, but there also appear to be concerns being raised by the scientific community regarding the potential risks.

I don't know enough about the science to form an opinon one way or another....

#3 witchesforest

Posted 21 December 2011 - 11:39 AM

I guess it depends how easy to replicate the virus it actually is. I would generally trust a bunch of scientists over a nutty US government department.

Have you ever heard of this guy? He bought some stock standard cell lines for use in a conceptual art piece and found himself banged up as a terrorist:

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/6/16/art_..._time_of_terror



#4 witchesforest

Posted 21 December 2011 - 11:40 AM

Also, there's a perfectly good chance this virus will emerge in nature anyway. How is censorship going to prevent that from happening?

#5 MrsW87

Posted 21 December 2011 - 11:43 AM

Firstly, please excuse my ignorance as I know NOTHING about science so am strictly speaking from a 'public interest' point of view but Im in two minds about it all. Part of me thinks that something like this has no business being made public... What is the point of making it public and all the 'what ifs' with the whole terrorist thing... Then another part of me thinks that if they are going to use tax payer money to do this research than the least they can do is share with the tax payers what they are doing.

Im also in two minds about the whole issue. I understand that we need research and testing like this to try and counteract outbreaks and pandemics, but I also feel like they are playing with fire.

I think the fact that they are making a big deal about it being public knowledge is more concerning than anything...

#6 Angelina Ballerina

Posted 21 December 2011 - 11:55 AM

If there are terrorists motivated enough and with the right connections in the scientific community, I don't think placing restrictions on accessing the information will stop them.

Fortunately, I think the majority of terrorists are pretty dumb and scientific journal articles are not their preferred reading.



#7 Liv_FERAL_sh

Posted 21 December 2011 - 12:01 PM

Alrighty, I've done a little bit of digging and I THINK what they did was test various naturally occuring mutations to figure out what kind of mutation might result in cross-species infection. If this is the case...and I truly have no real idea...then this is HUGELY important to the field of virology! To be able to understand the mutations that occur that change viruses from say a bird virus to a human virus will allow us to pre-empt the transition, develop vaccines to that particular part of the virus....seriously, the mind boggles!

I might turn this into a rant about the stupid media reporting one sided bollocks!!

#8 Liv_FERAL_sh

Posted 21 December 2011 - 12:03 PM

QUOTE (Angelina Ballerina @ 21/12/2011, 12:55 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Fortunately, I think the majority of terrorists are pretty dumb and scientific journal articles are not their preferred reading.


I now have an image in my head of bin Laden wearing glasses reading a pile of Nature magazines!!

#9 Stellajoy

Posted 21 December 2011 - 12:04 PM

QUOTE
I'm not convinced that 'terrorists' would find these findings any more useful than those published daily in scientific journals!


This. Censorship....never a good thing.

I swear to god (if i believed in one) that I am about to stop reading newspapers...

We need MORE SCIENTISTS in the world and less mass hysteria inducing bullsh*t

#10 Stellajoy

Posted 21 December 2011 - 12:07 PM

QUOTE
Alrighty, I've done a little bit of digging and I THINK what they did was test various naturally occuring mutations to figure out what kind of mutation might result in cross-species infection. If this is the case...and I truly have no real idea...then this is HUGELY important to the field of virology! To be able to understand the mutations that occur that change viruses from say a bird virus to a human virus will allow us to pre-empt the transition, develop vaccines to that particular part of the virus....seriously, the mind boggles!


Yes, that is roughly what i could gather also.

exactly why censorship is a terrible idea

#11 Liv_FERAL_sh

Posted 21 December 2011 - 12:09 PM

QUOTE (Stellajoy @ 21/12/2011, 01:07 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Yes, that is roughly what i could gather also.

exactly why censorship is a terrible idea



You've convinced me...let's turn this into a 'newspapers are full of morons' rant! Seriously, who do they get to write this drivel?

#12 Futureself

Posted 21 December 2011 - 12:20 PM

QUOTE (Angelina Ballerina @ 21/12/2011, 11:55 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
If there are terrorists motivated enough and with the right connections in the scientific community, I don't think placing restrictions on accessing the information will stop them.

I have to agree with this. If releasing a "killer virus" was the aim of a terrorist group, they would be working away at that regardless and forging their own connections.
I can't see anyone simply ripping the pages out of Nature (so to speak) shouting 'Bingo!'; grabbing some gerbils and building a lab in the shed to bring their super bug to life using the article like a recipe off 'Food network'. Which is what is being implied.
ETD, can't spell

Edited by futureself, 21 December 2011 - 12:21 PM.


#13 kadoodle

Posted 21 December 2011 - 12:59 PM

Urgh, journalists.  They seriously need to raise the TER for journalism degrees, because far too many numpties are getting in.

OP - your saying you worked with the herpes virus is making my cold sore hurt sad.gif

#14 s-m

Posted 21 December 2011 - 01:06 PM

x

Edited by s-m, 17 August 2014 - 07:01 PM.


#15 Liv_FERAL_sh

Posted 21 December 2011 - 01:19 PM

QUOTE (kadoodle @ 21/12/2011, 01:59 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Urgh, journalists. They seriously need to raise the TER for journalism degrees, because far too many numpties are getting in.

OP - your saying you worked with the herpes virus is making my cold sore hurt sad.gif


I agree, why can't they get journos with actual scientific experience!

I was working on a very VERY modified form of the herpes virus, completely unable to replicate inside cells...I did have friends working on retroviruses including live HIV, that was scary!

#16 Liv_FERAL_sh

Posted 21 December 2011 - 01:25 PM

QUOTE (s-m @ 21/12/2011, 02:06 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I am not sure where to stand on scientific censorship, particularly since earlier today I was watching some of Oppenheimer's speeches after the first nuclear test. Scientific knowledge *per se* is not necessarily a bad thing, but the devil is in its application.

I also agree with the PP who said that it's probably only a matter of time until a naturally-occuring strain of H5N1 is transmissable between humans anyway...


I agree that a blanket 'science should never be censored' is not a good standpoint, but then nothing that takes such an absolute view of something is a good standpoint! In saying that there are a lot of very bad things that happen in the name of science...human experimentation by the Nazis is one appalling example that comes to mind and some sort of moral compass should be engaged.

The scientists I know are all underpaid and do what they do because they love science, want to make a difference to the world, want to help people...I don't know a single one who is hell bent on world domination!

It is just a matter of time before something like H5N1 will be transmissable, research to understand that will lead to treatments that will help WHEN it does happen! In this case it was good research and not a crazy superbug!!

#17 miriams

Posted 23 December 2011 - 08:03 PM

Depopulation


A popular theory espoused by some as the solution to a myriad of problems threatening their perceived hegemony.

#18 Feral Fennel Salad

Posted 23 December 2011 - 08:21 PM

I'm not a biologist (my training was in engineering and maths so extremely ignorant in the ways of single and multi celled life forms), and my guess is it's a journalist has to digest the information (wont have a clue whats really going on) and often s/he will vomit up something simplistic with an accompanying catchy apocalyptic title.

Nature does a pretty great job on it's own at permutation and combinations of stuff eg Hendra, Nipah, Ebola but people can increase the rate of crazy stuff happening and that can be concerning.

Am I worried? Nah.



#19 Jeneral

Posted 23 December 2011 - 08:24 PM

The scary thing is that now, instead of this scientific paper - one of millions available, that you would normally have to specifically search for, and essentially require a fair bit of background knowledge just to find it, let alone read and understand the implications of it... we now also have public and easily accessable knowledge of the paper, a summary of what it contains, and also the potential evil use of that knowledge!

So now any old dumbass can just go kidnap a scientist and 'make' them do it.

#20 Feral Fennel Salad

Posted 23 December 2011 - 08:39 PM

I don't know if it's as simple as kidnapping a scientist and forcing them to do it.  I suspect the labs where this stuff are taking place are extremely expensive to set up and probably very secure with tight controls on biological and chemical supplies.

I don't fear terrorist cells getting this information (where are many effective low cost ways to achieve their objective of terrorizing) but if a nation could have the resources and motivation to develop such pathogens.

And just because it's published in a journal that doesn't mean very much.  The authors almost never reveal exactly how something was done (eg like a recipe) just enough information for competitors to know the article isn't crap. At least that's my experience with peer reviewed articles.



#21 TheCeriseClupea

Posted 24 December 2011 - 08:19 PM

Population control ! That's why my username is anti*ILLUMINATI*. I am sick of the lies & crap journalists spin.Not to mention the governing bodies around the world.

#22 Guest_Caramel_Swirl_*

Posted 26 December 2011 - 07:56 AM

..

Edited by Caramel_Swirl, 28 December 2011 - 09:17 PM.


#23 purplekitty

Posted 26 December 2011 - 11:13 AM

QUOTE (Livsh @ 21/12/2011, 02:25 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
It is just a matter of time before something like H5N1 will be transmissable, research to understand that will lead to treatments that will help WHEN it does happen! In this case it was good research and not a crazy superbug!!
This.
In this case ,the researchers did not set out to create a superbug ,it just happened but it could easily happen in the wild.
We need to prepare for the inevitable.
QUOTE
Err the CDC (centre for disease control) has let a virus that causes a serious lifelong multisystem neurological disease that is killing thousands of people, free since the mid 1980's, when they took months to respond to an outbreak of it.
I'm not aware of this. What is it?


#24 Guest_Caramel_Swirl_*

Posted 26 December 2011 - 06:08 PM

.

Edited by Caramel_Swirl, 28 December 2011 - 09:17 PM.


#25 purplekitty

Posted 28 December 2011 - 09:27 PM

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis spread by the CDC?

I don't think so.








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