In 1918, an influenza pandemic that originated with avian flu killed 50 million people. Researchers isolated samples of that virus from bodies of infected people preserved in Alaskan permafrost since 1918. From the samples, they sequenced the viral genome, then reconstructed the virus. The reconstructed virus is 39, 000 times more infectious than modem influenza strains, and 100 percent lethal in mice. Understanding how this virus works can help us defend ourselves against other strains that may arise. For example discovering what makes it so infectious and deadly would help us design more effective vaccines. Critics of the research are concerned: If the virus escapes the containment facilities (even though it has not done so yet), it might cause another pandemic. Worse, the published DNA sequence and methods to make the virus could be used for criminal purposes. Do you think this research makes us more or less safe?

BuyFind

Biology: The Unity and Diversity o...

15th Edition
Cecie Starr + 3 others
Publisher: Cengage Learning
ISBN: 9781337408332
BuyFind

Biology: The Unity and Diversity o...

15th Edition
Cecie Starr + 3 others
Publisher: Cengage Learning
ISBN: 9781337408332

Solutions

Chapter 15, Problem 1CT
Textbook Problem

In 1918, an influenza pandemic that originated with avian flu killed 50 million people. Researchers isolated samples of that virus from bodies of infected people preserved in Alaskan permafrost since 1918. From the samples, they sequenced the viral genome, then reconstructed the virus. The reconstructed virus is 39, 000 times more infectious than modem influenza strains, and 100 percent lethal in mice. Understanding how this virus works can help us defend ourselves against other strains that may arise. For example discovering what makes it so infectious and deadly would help us design more effective vaccines. Critics of the research are concerned: If the virus escapes the containment facilities (even though it has not done so yet), it might cause another pandemic. Worse, the published DNA sequence and methods to make the virus could be used for criminal purposes. Do you think this research makes us more or less safe?

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