Skip to comments.Synthesizing Bioterror - Are mail order pandemics in your future? (Read comment# 1 please.)
Posted on 11/01/2007 11:38:33 PM PDT by neverdem
Want to create a pathogen? Just download its gene sequence information from the Internet and place an order with a gene sequencing company. The genes arrive in the mail a couple of days later. Mix it in your basement lab and then release on an unprotected public. Is this nightmarish vision of mail-order bioterrorism really possible?
Most experts agree that basement bioterrorism is unlikely right now. But rapid improvements in the technologies that allow researchers to generate genetic material starting from just information and raw chemicals could make such bioterror attacks possible in the next decade or so. The synthesis of entire viral genomesthe complete set of genetic information of these microbeshas already been done by legitimate researchers.
For example, in 2002 one team constructed the polio virus using only published DNA sequence information and mail-ordered raw materials. In 2005, another group similarly reconstituted the 1918 pandemic influenza virus that killed tens of millions of people...
(Excerpt) Read more at reason.com ...
This is right up my alley. I’ve been doing viral engineering for the past 11 years. These proposed restrictions on DNA synthesis or the required equipment seem absurd to me. It’s getting so simple and so cheap to do this stuff, I can’t see new laws and regulations being very effective. It’s pretty low-tech stuff - **far** less so than making a nuke, for example, and no restricted, or chemically rare or complex materials are needed.
What’s to keep some random lab in China or Mexico or even Bangladesh from doing this? Not too much!
I’m shooting for the Wolverine plan then...
FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.
Thanks neverdem. I can see you’ve been giving this a lot of thought... ;’)
Some company out there sells PCR technology.
If you have good DNA, you can make quarts of the stuff. Gallons.
I think it would be fairly hard to do without contaminating the sample, though. It would end up being like fruit fly DNA or bread mold DNA or something.
Or OJ’s DNA.