Thursday, November 02, 2006

Retro Virus

I will be talking about the article entitled, "Viral Fossil Brought Back to Life". In a simple/short version:

There are viruses that modify the DNA of the person that they infect so that the virus encoding becomes part of the person's DNA that is passed onto their children. We (as humans) have a bunch of these. We are protected from the virus because the version that we carry has a mutation so that the virus no longer works. What the scientists did was take a bunch of human DNA, find the messed up virus, and compare the sequences. Some people have different mutations, and you can see what is the same between all but one sequence. Then you can recombine the DNA so that it is "correct". Once you do that, you have remade the initial virus. Then you can infect humans! Turns out our immune system rocks, so it wasn't very effective.

The interesting quotes appear at the end of the article. Who has the authority to do this sort of research? This is sort of like Jurassic Park, but with viruses instead of dinosaurs. What sort of safe guards need to be implemented? Is it a national security issue? Are predictions of infectivity accurate? I don't really know the answers to those questions. If the person really could make sure that it only replicated once, then I think that level III was appropriate. If all of this stuff was unknown, I would demand level IV. All of us have read Andromeda Strain, and Jurassic Park, heck, even Prey. Wait, and almost Sphere. All involved something that was not understood being haphazardly injected into our world. (all by Michael Crichton ..... what does that mean?!)

PLease comment, with a capital L.

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