GAINS OF FUNCTIONS

A FIELD OF EXPERIMENTAL VIROLOGY - BENEFICIAL OR EVIL

Author: Dr Daniel Maller 

               

Published date: 06 February 2022

Ref:0729

DEFINITION (2019)

Any experiment seeking to increase one of the following three viral properties, is considered a gain-of-function study:

  • Transmissibility

  • Pathogenicity

  • Resistance to immunity and/or treatments

This research mainly concerns airborne viruses.

 

SCIENTIFIC GOALS

  • Test species barriers

  • Study the modes of transmission between humans

  • Understand how the resistance of the virus increases

  • Understand the genotype-phenotype links (interest of sequencing)

So these studies also aim to study how these properties are genetically determined and therefore to imagine manipulations or treatments that could weaken or circumvent them.

 

NATURAL SELECTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In these farms, epidemics of avian flu break out very easily.

Promiscuity favors viral mutations and it can happen that a mutation allows the crossing of the species barrier and contaminates an employee, who himself can become a patient 0.

The 1919 Spanish flu is thought to have spread from mixed pig and poultry farms.

 

FIRST EXPERIENCE - Holland 2012 (Ron Fouchier and col)

  • An H5N1 avian influenza virus infected employees. It caused a mortality of around 60% but was not transmissible between humans.

  • They infected ferrets in successive passages to test the possible passage in mammals and to study the mode of aerial contamination (aerosols).

  • They obtained an extremely contagious virus (after 10 passages) but very little lethal for ferrets.

  • For fear of passage to humans, the study was stopped.

 

LAB SAFETY

Following three lab incidents that occurred in 2014:

  • Exposure of workers to anthrax at the CDC lab in Atlanta

  • Discovery in a freezer in an unsecured area of ​​the NIH lab in Bethesda, Maryland of smallpox virus

  • Accidental release of H5N1 from the Atlanta Biosafety Laboratory

A moratorium on gain-of-office experiments has been declared by President Obama.

 

THE TECHNIQUES

  • Successive passages: = natural selection

  • Production of chimeras: infection of a single host by two viruses. Recombinations can then occur which give rise to new viruses.

  • Genetic recombination, genetic manipulation

 

CONCLUSION

  • Gain-of-function experiments have resumed all over the world.

  • The laboratories in which they are carried out should be:

  • Level P4

  • In the desert, very far from urban centers

  • Researchers and employees should undergo quarantine before returning to civilization.

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Bibliography

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