Did Pox Virus Research Put Potential Profits ahead of Public Safety?

February 19, 2018

(NPR) – In the brave new world of synthetic biology, scientists can now brew up viruses from scratch using the tools of DNA technology. The latest such feat, published last month, involves horsepox, a cousin of the feared virus that causes smallpox in people. Critics charge that making horsepox in the lab has endangered the public by basically revealing the recipe for how any lab could manufacture smallpox to use as a bioweapon. The scientist who did the work, David Evans of the University of Alberta in Canada, has said his team had to synthesize horsepox because they wanted to study the virus and there was no other way to get it.

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