WHAT IF IT ESCAPES? Scientists recreates more virulent version of virus that killed half-a-million people
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
7/2/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Will it benefit mankind - or unleash a new terror on the human race? Dr. Yoshihiro Kawaoka, professor of virology at University of Wisconsin at Madison, has taken the 2009 strain of pandemic influenza and has made it even more virulent. That virus was culpable in the deaths of half a million people worldwide. Kawaoka replicated the deadly Spanish flu of 1918 and has followed it up with an especially resilient strain of the H1N1 virus.
Brave new researcher -- or Dr. Frankenstein? Dr. Yoshihiro Kawaoka is confident his research will benefit humanity.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Kawaoka's critics says this renders the world's population defenseless against the virus. They point out the fact that the H1N1 virus that sparked the 2009-2010 pandemic has turned into a regular human flu virus that continues to circulate seasonally worldwide.
According to Kawaoka, he intends to convert the virus into its pre-pandemic state in order to see how it has changed over the past four years. He says that his ultimate goal is to perfect the design of the flu vaccines of the future. In order to do so, he says that he has enabled the virus to "escape" the human immune system.
The 2009 H1N1 pandemic was responsible for some 500,000 deaths worldwide.
"Through selection of immune escape viruses in the laboratory under appropriate containment conditions, we were able to identify the key regions [that] would enable 2009 H1N1 viruses to escape immunity," Kawaoka says.
The award-winning researcher has been secretive about his latest project. He does say that his study is complete and is currently awaiting publication.
Scientists familiar with Dr Kawaoka's research said he had selected strains of H1N1 resistant to antibodies, and then repeated the process several times until he came up with a super virus.
Kawaoka has been conducting his risky experiments out of a state-of-the-art laboratory at the Institute for Influenza Virus Research in Madison. Members of the audience walked away shocked after he revealed his H1N1 study earlier this year during a closed-door meeting.
A colleague who witnessed the presentation said Kawaoka had picked out H1N1 strains that were resistant to antibodies -- and then repeated the process several time until he had a super-virus that could not be wiped out by a vaccine.
Kawaoka and his team have been experimenting with deadly flue viruses in his state-of-the-art lab at the University of Wisconsin's Institute for Influenza Virus Research.
"He used a flu virus that is known to infect humans and then manipulated it in such a way that it would effectively leave the global population defenseless if it ever escaped from his laboratory," the unnamed scientist said.
"Everything he did before was dangerous but this is even madder."
Kawaoka, 58, has insisted that the people handling the lethal virus are experienced scientists, and that the lab environment is secure.
Officials at the University of Wisconsin have reassured the public that there is little to no risk that the virus could escape from the lab.
Copyright 2017 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK
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