this is a little on the mouse pox virus that is kept quiet.
from bbc.http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/sci_t ... epox.shtml
The researchers, based in Canberra, Australia, were hoping to genetically engineer the mousepox virus to produce a contraceptive vaccine to control mouse populations. Instead they made the virus so virulent that it killed all of the mice in the experiment within nine days of them being injected.
Ron Jackson of CSIRO’S wildlife division and Ian Ramshaw from the Australian National University used the mousepox virus as a vehicle for transporting egg proteins into mice. Their experiment revolved around the principle that if they could add a gene
, known for its ability to stimulate antibodies, to the mice then they may be able to simulate antibodies against the mouse eggs and so cause the animals to be infertile.
Whilst they were aware that the mousepox virus could cause symptoms in the mice, they believed them to be minor. However once the IL-4 gene
was added the researchers were surprised by the totally unexpected result.
Speaking to the New Scientist magazine, researcher Ron Jackson commented on the potential that the mousepox research might have if it fell into the wrong hands:
‘It would be safe to assume that if some idiot did put human IL-4 into human smallpox they’d increase the lethality quite dramatically
…Seeing the consequences of what happened in the mice, I wouldn’t want to be the one who’d want to do the experiment.’The potential for abuse of this discovery is real but virus expert, Professor Oxford, argues that to prevent all similar research would hinder efforts to tackle disease. Similarly concerns have been raised concerning publishing such findings and the freedom of the scientific press.
Whilst the mousepox virus identified in Australia could not kill humans it does have similarities to the smallpox virus. A report published in 2000 by public health officials’ claims that the US has sufficient quantities of smallpox vaccine to treat between six and seven million people should there be a bioterrorist attack. In the case of the killer mousepox, the researchers were dismayed to see that the engineered virus was uncommonly resistant to usual vaccines. If terrorists were to use a version of the virus on humans it is questionable how effective the vaccines would be.