–The studies aim to genetically modify the virus to see what it needs to give it more of a deadly pandemic kick.
23 Oct 2013 Dutch scientists hidden away in a top-security laboratory are seeking to create mutant flu viruses, dangerous work designed to prepare the world for a lethal pandemic by beating nature to it. The idea of engineering viral pathogens to be more deadly than they are already has generated huge controversy, amid fears that such viruses could leak out or fall into the wrong hands. Hidden away in an un-signposted corner of the campus of the Erasmus Medical Centre in the port city of Rotterdam, a handful of top security-cleared researchers are selecting, deleting and adding genes to strains of the H7N9 virus to check what it might be capable of in a worst-case scenario.
The studies aim to genetically modify the virus to see what it needs to give it more of a deadly pandemic kick. That could mean making it more virulent, more pathogenic and, crucially, more transmissible – capable of passing easily in droplets through the air from one mammal to another.
[Or, you can just watch 'V for Vendetta' to see how this all turns out...]