A team of virus researchers is set to perform studies on H7N9 that may make the bird flu more resistant to drugs and more easily transmitted between humans. The scientists announced their plans today in two major science journals, Nature and Science.
H7N9 first arose in eastern China this spring. Since then, it has killed 43 people and sickened 90 more. The outbreak is now under control, but the research team says the virus could gain traction again this winter flu season, so they want to do so-called gain-of-function studies to learn more about the virus quickly.
Gain-of-function studies are controversial. While it's normal for international scientists to study disease outbreaks intensely, gain-of-function studies take it another step by making epidemic pathogens more dangerous, if only within labs. When scientists wanted to publish the first gain-of-function studies of H5N1 avian flu in 2011, public outcry led them to stop further studies for more than a year.
In short, it's a question of whether the risk is worth the knowledge we gain about epidemic flus. Opponents worry that the ability-added viruses could escape from labs by accident and infect people. They also worry that terrorists could use published papers about the studies as recipes for bioweapons.
Proponents say the studies offer information that experiments on viruses in their natural state don't. For example, researchers will test how many changes are needed to make H7N9 spread more easily than it currently does, to help them predict whether such a change is likely to happen naturally. "If only a few mutations are needed, the risk may be greater than if many changes are required," Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a pathologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, wrote to Popular Science in an email.
Safely done gain-of-function studies "will improve pandemic preparedness," John McCauley, the director of the World Health Organization's flu research center, said in a statement.
The latest gain-of-function studies face tougher oversight than before. U.S. health agencies announced today that they've set up a new level of review for any H7N9 studies that would make the virus easily transmissible in droplets carried in the air—the kind of invisible droplets that people make when the cough or sneeze, for example. U.S. agencies would be the primary funders of any gain-of-function H7N9 studies.
Prior to this announcement, researchers from all over the world performed many studies on H7N9 in its natural state. They've sequencing the virus' genetic material, tracked how it's transmitted and observed what happens to ferrets—a lab animal often used for flu studies—infected with the virus.
In one of the latest pieces of H7N9 research, scientists in China reported yesterday that they've found the first evidence that H7N9 is able to spread between people. The World Health Organization has said it thought this likely happened in isolated cases, but scientists had previously only seen proof of the virus moving from infected birds to people. H7N9 still seems to have a tough time spreading between people, as the sick man the Chinese scientists studied passed it only to his daughter, who tended to him, but not any of his dozens of close acquaintances. H7N9's difficulty in passing between people has helped keep it from spreading further and becoming a pandemic.
this simply is called "a crime against humanity" looking for personal gains as better recognition from the scientific community or even the Noble price by risking humans life on the betting board of science !..... that if this study is not a bio-weapon research under the rosy wraps!!
there is no reason for this "WTF" study because the options are limitless and the virus may take a different change all together
this is worse than putting your hand in bucket filled with rattle snakes because they may bite and they may not and if it did the world will not miss the fool ... this study but all the world in the dangerous bucket
don't be ignorant WWW.hearislam.com
gotta agree with Aimn_Darji
why ARE they making more deadly versions of viruses?
Seems fishy to me. seems like weaponization ...
So, Aimn_Darj... do nothing? As you stated it could go in any direction so at least studying it, modeling it, and invitro testing it gives us more than doing nothing. If we wanted a bio weapon to take out everyone there are pathogens much more effective than bird flu. You sound a little paranoid. Certainly you have an alternative to doing nothing accept waiting for it to circle the globe.
"Do not try and bend the spoon. That is impossible. Only try and realize the truth - there is no spoon."
ah, but we might not have to wait for it to travel the globe, as a regular virus.
The way i envision it, is as a true weapon of war. you could capture an enemy and infect them. release that person into a target area, and then wait for the sickness to spread.
Or depending on delivery method, you could possibly put it under the guise of humanitarianism, and start infecting people directly.
Or put it in food stuffs, depending on how long it can survive without a host.
but D49 makes a good point ... it is a good idea to study the virus and learn how it works.
But i'm very skeptical when i hear stories like this. I just automatically assume the worst case senario ...
that's just me though.
btw - D49 some guy is talking smack about you over at the climate change article. sounds like a real douche, lol.
Sometimes D49 surprises me as I agree with him on this topic. Just like everyone, I am not always correct, cheers.
This is where zombies start :(
PopSci has reached a new low by re-publishing the despicable pro-abortion article by Katie McDonough from Salon:
Fetal pain is NOT a lie. It's just not understood very well. Despite the article's assurances that pain is felt only after specific neural development occurs at 24 weeks, the medical literature is divided on fetal pain. The fetus responds to stimuli long before 24 weeks and how a fetus perceives a stimulus as pain is not understood at all.
This article isn't science, it's politics. Legislatures in some states, responding to the changing mood of the electorate, are creating legal consequences for terminating the life of a viable unborn child simply because it is inconvenient for the mother or father (or both).
The author is miffed that they could be so callous as to restrict a mother's choice in the matter. She neglects to consider how callous it is to ignore the unborn infant's choice (or lack thereof). She promotes the mother's welfare and dismisses the welfare of the fetus, which at 20 weeks (5 months) is distinctly human and has almost all the features of the baby it will be if allowed to live.
In McDonough's screed she writes about the experience of one abortion doctor: "Patients are now asking me about fetal pain. This was not happening 15 years ago," Davis says. "When you're sitting in your office with a woman who is 22 weeks (5 1/2 months) into a pregnancy with a severe fetal anomaly — she's depressed, she's stressed and now she's worried, 'Is my baby going to feel pain?' It's just another thing these women have to struggle with. And why? These are created concerns. They are not based in science, they are based in politics."
No, these are natural maternal concerns that most mothers have for their developing baby. It's not a "created concern" and it has nothing to do with politics.
Have a look yourself at an infant born at 24 weeks and reflect on the morality of terminating a 24-week old fetus:
(Since PopSci prevented comments on the article, I'm posting it to several other articles. Are you paying attention, editors?)
Get off your high horse and at least post on the correct article or better yet, how about a religous site?
uptil I looked at the paycheck which was of $6148, I didn't believe ...that...my mother in law was like actualy bringing home money part-time at there labtop.. there uncle has done this for only 6 months and just now paid for the mortgage on their home and bourt a brand new Toyota. we looked here,
I love how popsci disabled comments for the pro abortion article. So many untruths in there starting with the title-the article itself admits that a baby in the womb can feel pain.
You are just another anti-abortion nut who twists the facts and then lies, justifying those lies because you believe you are saving lives. The title refers to the lie the anti-abortion crowd uses and does not mean a fetus at any stage does not feal pain. It was not meant to be taken literally and you da#n well knew it, bugger off.
Won't allow comments on the Fetal pain article?
Always knew this site was bias, but that's pretty damn weak. Given all of the opinions this site spews.