Berkeley CSUA MOTD:Entry 40099
Berkeley CSUA MOTD
2018/04/25 [General] UID:1000 Activity:popular

2005/10/14-15 [Health/Disease/General] UID:40099 Activity:nil
10/14   Yay, we can now synthesize 1918 Spanish flu from scratch!
        "The group then used the recovered virus in experiments on mice,
        chicken eggs and cultures of human lung tissue. It killed all the mice
        within days, as well as chicken embryos normally used to produce
        quantities of virus for vaccines. And it reproduced rapidly in lung
        cells, even in cell cultures made to mimic certain body tissues where
        flu cannot normally grow." (
        "The findings raised enough concerns to inspire the US National Science
        Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) to call an emergency meeting
        with the journals' editors, after which officials agreed that the
        benefits of publication outweighed any risks." (Krauthammer column)
        "The flu virus, properly evolved, is potentially a destroyer of
        civilizations. We might have just given it to our enemies. Have a nice
        \_ this is old news.  buy crucell's stock.  buy buy buy.
           \_ oops, sorry, I went on vacation the day the news broke.
              anyway, some more informative links, mainly that there was an
              informed decision by experts to release the data, and there is
              a right-wing wacko today who chose not to mention that.
2018/04/25 [General] UID:1000 Activity:popular

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McKENNA The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Published on: 10/06/05 Federal and private researchers, including scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have re-created the influenza virus that killed 50 million people in 1918 in hopes of helping the world prepar e for a long-expected next pandemic of flu. The work, hailed as a stunning scientific achievement, confirms what some scientists have long suspected: The lost 1918 virus was a bird flu that jumped species to attack humans, much like the avian flu strain that ha s killed at least 60 people in Asia since late 2003. It was conducted in three cities and completed in a high-security Atlanta laboratory. More staff articles on flu epidemics Pay only to view full text. The analysis reveals that the current avian flu strain, known as H5N1, ha s begun to acquire some of the mutations that apparently made the 1918 v irus so lethal though the researchers cannot say how long it might tak e for the current strain to accumulate them all. The resurrection of the 1918 flu, which began with a sprinkle of molecule s and ended with a living virus, is not without controversy. It is being questioned both for its inherent risks and for how useful its findings ultimately will be in devising antiviral drugs and vaccines. The results, released Wednesday in simultaneous publications by the journ als Nature and Science, "provide critical clues to the genesis of the 19 18 pandemic and why it was so lethal," Drs. Julie Gerberding and Anthony Fauci, the directors of the CDC and the National Institute of Allergy a nd Infectious Diseases, said in a joint statement. "The findings reveal essential information to help us speed our preparation for and potenti ally thwart the next influenza pandemic." Jeffery Taubenberger and colleagues from the Arm ed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington reveal the complete genom e of the 1918 virus, which they retrieved from tissues taken from flu vi ctims: two young soldiers whose autopsy records were stored at their own institution, and a woman whose corpse was disinterred from Alaskan perm afrost by a pathologist sympathetic to their efforts. The group, who were originally outsiders to the tight-knit fraternity of flu virology, rocked the scientific world with a 1997 paper asserting th at the long-lost 1918 virus which vanished decades before the developme nt of techniques that could have described it could be retrieved. The group found that the virus was almost completely a bird-flu virus not, as some had thought, a mi xture of segments from both avian and human flus and possessed a handf ul of mutations in each of its eight genes that probably occurred as the virus began to infect humans. And in a second analysis, they compared the 1918 sequence with the geneti c sequence of the avian flu now circulating in Asia, finding that the cu rrent bird flu shares some of those same mutations. might be going down a similar path to what ultimately led to 1918," Taubenberger said. He suggested that with further research, virologists could provide an early-warning checklist of changes signalling what scientists fear most: bird flu's shift from a hard-to-acquire infection in people to one easily transmitted. Mutation timeline unclear It is not possible to say when those changes might emerge, he added. Scie ntists know the rate at which flu strains collect mutations as they circ ulate among humans but they do not know how rapidly flu strains change when they move from one species to another as bird flu has done. Since late 2003, bird flu has killed or caused the preventive slaughter o f more than 100 million domestic fowl and wild birds in Asia. Almost all of the 116 people known to have been sickened by the virus are believed to have been infected by birds. The virus may have passed from person t o person in a few cases but not in a sustained way. The Taubenberger group's genome results were used to create the more cont roversial piece of research revealed Wednesday: the re-creation of a liv e virus containing almost all of the genetic components of the 1918 stra in. In a three-cornered collaboration using a process called "reverse genetic s," a research group at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York used Taubenberger's sequence to re-create individual genes from the 1918 viru s, and then passed them to Dr. Tumpey and his colleagues worked under lab conditions designated "biosafe ty level 3+," a half-step below those used for the most dangerous organi sms known, with additional precautions that are normally applied only to bioterror organisms. They inserted the genes in lab culture cells, wher e the components self-assembled into a living, reproducing virus. The group then used the recovered virus in experiments on mice, chicken e ggs and cultures of human lung tissue. It killed all the mice within day s, as well as chicken embryos normally used to produce quantities of vir us for vaccines. And it reproduced rapidly in lung cells, even in cell c ultures made to mimic certain body tissues where flu cannot normally gro w But analysis of the recovered virus did not reveal any single mutation th at makes the 1918 flu virus famous for killing young, healthy victims in days and sometimes in hours so lethal. John Treanor, of the University of Rochester School of Medicine, who studies pandemic vaccine development but was not involved in the research. "What we're seeing is that all the individual genes contribute, but there is no single gene in there that is sufficient to make that virus a killer." what we need to do to develop a pandemic vac cine," said Dr. David Fedson, a longtime pharmaceutical researcher who n ow lives in France. The tasks ahead formulating a vaccine, getting it licensed and distributing it as widely as possible are not primarily s cientific ones, he said. Other scientists had mixed views on whether the research should have been undertaken at all. The Federation of American Scientists which earlie r this week criticized the CDC for withholding unrelated flu research da ta supported the work, noting the CDC submitted the proposal to severa l research review committees, as well as the independent National Scienc e Advisory Board for Biosecurity. The CDC deserves praise for ascertaining in advance that currently availa ble antiviral drugs would have protected researchers from becoming infec ted and spreading the virus, and also for inviting outside researchers t o work at its Atlanta labs rather than distributing the re-created virus , said Dr. Michael Stebbins, the federation's director of biology policy . But the nonprofit Sunshine Project, which opposes biological weapons rese arch, disagreed. "We see no compelling scientific reason to re-create th e virulent virus," said Edward Hammond, the project's director.
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Louis University Center for Vaccine Development, who did n ot participate in the studies. This report, which assessed genetic variations in the strains over a five year period, is one of a trio of papers about the flu virus published t his week. The other two recreate and research the particularly virulent strain responsible for the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic, which killed all l aboratory mice within 6 days. The findings have since been engulfed in c ontroversy out of fear that the recreated strain might escape, or that t he virulent strain's now publicly available genome, deposited in GenBank , might be used by hostile nations as a bioterrorism agent. National Scienc e Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) to call an emergency meeting wi th the journals' editors, after which officials agreed that the benefits of publication outweighed any risks. Still, the agency asked the author s to include statements in the papers about the safety precautions they took, and the importance of the research for public health. Julie Gerberding, dir ector of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which led th e team that reconstructed the 1918 virus, assured that investigators too k proper "precautions," and all work was carried out in an enhanced bios afety level-3 laboratory. The third paper, also published in Nature, takes a broader look at influenza, studying the dynamic gene tic landscape provided by over 200 whole genome sequences. to what woul d become the dominant clade, in or before the spring of 2003. The "epide miologically significant" result of this reassortment event was the Fuji an-like strain that frequently eluded vaccination in the 2003-2004 flu s eason, according to the paper. "The flu was able to draw upon this pool of genetic diversity that it had, pull out a gene that is more adaptive, and go ahead with that," Salzberg told The Scientist. The researchers used large-scale sequencing techniques on a set of 209 pr edominantly H3N2 influenza isolates collected in New York state over fiv e years, with no preference towards particularly virulent strains. This technique provided a comprehensive, true-to-life picture of the virus's dynamic evolution and transmission patterns in the region, according to Salzberg. The approach reveals three clades even within this limited reg ion, and shows "how quickly strains are moving around, emerging and disa ppearing," he said. By studying the complex interplay of genetic material in these sequences, scientists may be better able to identify circulating influenza strains before they become public health threats, and scrutinize potentially im portant changes in internal genes. Earlier work largely focused only on HA and neuraminidase (NA) gene segments, which both encode surface prote ins that make good vaccine targets. Elodie Ghedin at the Institute for Genomic Research sai d that researchers might have considered "both lineages in the design ra ther than focus on this dominant one" and then used reverse genetics to design the optimal vaccine. The researchers also found mutations that may be important for receptor b inding affinity and the efficiency of viral replication, suggesting the need for further investigation of their functional significance. The authors of the Science paper found the HA gene in the 1918 strain to be essential for its high virulence. The report about the 209 sequences is the first analysis of data from the ongoing Influenza Genome Sequencing Project, which is led by US Nationa l Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease; According to Belshe, scientists had historically thought that reassortmen t events were solely responsible for influenza pandemics, as they were i n 1957 and 1968. But the complete sequence of the 1918 Spanish influenza strain demonstrates that it most likely evolved directly from the avian flu virus, providing a potential alternate mechanism for this threat th at Belshe calls "quite alarming." Jeffrey Taubenberger at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Ro ckville, Maryland, first author of the Nature paper on the 1918 epidemic , said at Tuesday's press conference that he and his colleagues have est ablished the "theoretical framework of amino acid changes that we think are important, and the next part is to do the careful basic science to t ry to address the significance of these changes to allow the bird virus to become a human virus, and that's going to take some time." THE SCIENTIST IS AN INTERNATIONAL NEWS MAGAZINE THAT REPO RTS ON AND ANALYZES THE ISSUES AND EVENTS THAT IMPACT THE WORLD OF LIFE SCIENTISTS. IT PROVIDES A DAILY NEWS SERVICE WITH SHORT RESEARCH NEWS PI ECES ABOUT RESEARCH ARTICLES PUBLISHED IN OTHER JOURNALS AND ABOUT EVENT S OF IMPORTANCE TO THE SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY.
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Page A19 While official Washington has been poring over Harriet Miers's long-ago d oings on the Dallas City Council and parsing the byzantine comings and g oings of the Patrick Fitzgerald grand jury, relatively unnoticed was per haps the most momentous event of our lifetime -- what is left of it, as I shall explain. It was announced last week that US scientists have ju st created a living, killing copy of the 1918 "Spanish" flu. First, it is a scientific achievement of staggering proportions. The Span ish flu has not been seen on this blue planet for 85 years. Its re-creat ion is a story of enterprise, ingenuity, serendipity, hard work and shee r brilliance. It involves finding deep in the bowels of a military hospi tal in Washington a couple of tissue samples from the lungs of soldiers who died in 1918 -- in an autopsy collection first ordered into existenc e by Abraham Lincoln -- and the disinterment of an Alaskan Eskimo who di ed of the flu and whose remains had been preserved by the permafrost. Th en, using slicing and dicing techniques only Michael Crichton could imag ine, they pulled off a microbiological Jurassic Park: the first-ever res urrection of an ancient pathogen. And not just any ancient pathogen, exp lained virologist Eddie Holmes, but "the agent of the most important dis ease pandemic in human history." Which brings us to the second element of this story: Beyond the brillianc e lies the sheer terror. We have brought back to life an agent of near-b iblical destruction. It killed more people in six months than were kille d in the four years of World War I It killed more humans than any other disease of similar duration in the history of the world, says Alfred W Crosby, who wrote a history of the 1918 pandemic. And, notes New Scient ist magazine, when the re-created virus was given to mice in heavily qua rantined laboratories in Atlanta, it killed the mice more quickly than a ny other flu virus ever tested . Now that I have your attention, consider, with appropriate trepidation, t he third element of this story: What to do with this knowledge? Not only has the virus been physically re-created, but its entire genome has als o now been published for the whole world, good people and very bad, to s ee. The decision to publish was a very close call, terrifyingly close. We've learned from t his research that the 1918 flu was bird flu, "the most bird-like of all mammalian flu viruses," says Jeffery Taubenberger, lead researcher in un raveling the genome. There is a bird flu epidemic right now in Asia that has infected 117 people and killed 60. It has already developed a few o f the genomic changes that permit transmission to humans. Therefore, you want to put out the knowledge of the structure of the 1918 flu, which m ade the full jump from birds to humans, so that every researcher in the world can immediately start looking for ways to anticipate, monitor, pre vent and counteract similar changes in today's bird flu. We are essentially in a life-or-death race with the bird flu. Can we figu re out how to preempt it before it figures out how to evolve into a tran smittable form with 1918 lethality that will decimate humanity? To run t hat race we need the genetic sequence universally known -- not just to i nform and guide but to galvanize new research. On the other hand, resurrection of the virus and publication of its struc ture open the gates of hell. Biological knowledge is far easier to acquire for Osama bin Laden an d friends than nuclear knowledge. And if you can't make this stuff yours elf, you can simply order up DNA sequences from commercial laboratories around the world that will make it and ship it to you on demand. Taubenb erger himself admits that "the technology is available." And if the bad guys can't make the flu themselves, they could try to stea l it. But the incentive to do so from a secure facility could not be greater. Nature, which published the full genome sequence, cites Rutgers bacteriologist Richard Ebright as warning that there is a significant risk "verging on inevitability" of accidental release into the human population or of theft by a "disgruntled, disturbed or extremi st laboratory employee." T he flu virus, properly evolved, is potentially a destroyer of civilizati ons.