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June 23, 2014

Re-engineering a Killer Virus

To assess the risk posed by a virus that could acquire all eight of the 1918-like killer influenza genes, researchers at the University of Wisconsin used reverse genetics techniques to generate a virus that differed from the 1918 virus by only 3% of the amino acids that make up the virus proteins. A number of scientists have questioned the sanity of carrying out such an experiment on a microbe with the potential to cause a deadly worldwide pandemic.

Do you think the University of Wisconsin team was irresponsible in reverse engineering an influenza virus?

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