Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Earth Science News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



EPIDEMICS
Scientists piece together extinct horsepox virus, raising biosecurity concerns
by Brooks Hays
Washington (UPI) Jul 11, 2017


Lab scientists in Canada at the University of Alberta have synthesized horsepox, an extinct relative of the smallpox virus, using segments of mail-order DNA. The feat has raised biosecurity concerns, as well as questions about the costs and benefits of risky research.

Horsepox has been extinct for some time, and the smallpox virus was declared eradicated in 1980. Although the revived virus cannot infect humans, the breakthrough could inspire the development of new smallpox strains.

Scientists responsible for the research claim their work could inspire a new smallpox vaccine, as well as a virus-based cancer treatment.

But the researchers also said they wanted to prove synthesizing smallpox de novo was possible. According to some scientists, such a justification is problematic.

"The important decision going forward is whether research with high biosafety or biosecurity risks should be pursued with a justification of demonstrating that something dangerous is now possible. I don't think it should," Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health, wrote in a blog post. "Creating new risks to show that these risks are real is the wrong path. At the very least, it's a serious issue needing serious discussion."

The University of Alberta scientists acknowledged to the Washington Post that their work, should it be published, could be interpreted as sharing "instructions for manufacturing a pathogen."

No journal has yet accepted the work for publication.

The Canadian researchers reportedly took all the necessary regulatory steps before conducting their work, but scientists have questioned whether regulators fully appreciated the risks and broader ethical implications of the experimentation.

Given the global nature of the risks involved, Inglesby believes research proposals need to pass more rigorous international vetting process.

"There clearly needs to be an international component to these policies," Inglesby wrote. "We need agreed-upon norms that will help guide countries and their scientists regarding work that falls into this category, and high-level dialogue regarding the necessary role of scientific review, guidance, and regulation for work that falls into special categories of highest concern."

Paul Keim, who studies anthrax at Northern Arizona University, offered a similar assessment.

"Bringing back an extinct virus that is related to smallpox, that's a pretty inflammatory situation," Keim told Science. "There is always an experiment or event that triggers closer scrutiny, and this sounds like it should be one of those events where the authorities start thinking about what should be regulated."

Despite the criticism, scientists at the University of Alberta say their work is essential for the development of new vaccines. They hope the study of horsepox will help them understand how the smallpox vaccine was first created in the 18th century.

"This is the most successful vaccine in human history, the foundation of modern immunology and microbiology, and yet we don't know where it came from," lead researcher David Evans said. "There is a huge, interesting academic question here."

EPIDEMICS
Sri Lanka deploys troops to tackle dengue crisis
Colombo (AFP) July 2, 2017
Sri Lanka deployed hundreds of soldiers to destroy mosquito breeding grounds as the country battles the spread of deadly dengue fever that has killed a record 215 people this year, officials said Sunday. Humid monsoon weather, stagnant water from recent flooding, as well as mounting piles of rotting garbage accumulating in the capital, have combined to create abundant areas for mosquitoes ... read more

Related Links
Epidemics on Earth - Bird Flu, HIV/AIDS, Ebola


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

EPIDEMICS
Civilian deaths soar in Iraq, Syria: monitoring group

West Mosul residents start mammoth task of rebuilding

In IS-held Raqa, parched civilians risk lives for water

EU ministers pledge steps to tackle migrant flood

EPIDEMICS
Sorting complicated knots

Engineers find way to evaluate green roofs

Nature-inspired material uses liquid reinforcement

Feel the heat, one touch a time

EPIDEMICS
Trump envoy mediates water deal between Israel, Palestinians

Strengthening of West African Monsoon during Green Sahara period may have affected ENSO

Scientists make 'squarest' ice crystals ever

Report: High seas in high danger as ecological tipping point nears

EPIDEMICS
Sentinel satellite captures birth of behemoth iceberg

Massive iceberg

Warm Winter Events in Arctic Becoming More Frequent, Lasting Longer

Krill hotspot fuels incredible biodiversity in Antarctic region

EPIDEMICS
Study offers new approach to evaluating agricultural development programs

Using treated graywater for irrigation is better for arid environments

Disneyland China falls a-fowl of huge turkey leg demand

Global use of wastewater to irrigate agriculture at least 50 percent greater than thought

EPIDEMICS
4 killed, 6 missing in India's Gujarat amid monsoon floods

Slow earthquakes occur continuously in the Alaska-Aleutian subduction zone

How strike-slip faults form, the origin of earthquakes

Japan Abe sees devastation in flood-hit area

EPIDEMICS
Rwandan forces killing suspects without trial: HRW

AU chair questions US stance on African peacekeeping

3 killed in north Mali clashes as UN condemns violence

Gambian army 'hostile elements' working against government

EPIDEMICS
DNA of early Neanderthal gives timeline for new modern human-related dispersal from Africa

Researchers document early, permanent human settlement in Andes

Analysis of Neanderthal teeth grooves uncovers evidence of prehistoric dentistry

Study: Potentially no limit to human lifespan




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement