With a two-month moratorium still in place on research studies that make the H5N1 virus more transmissible in mammals, a Michigan State University grad student and professor showed how easily a new virus can evolve dangerous traits.
Jan 27, 2012
Graduate student Justin Meyer and Richard Lenski, Hannah Distinguished Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Michigan State University, have published a new paper in the journal Science that adds to the current debate about research that might be useful to terrorists. Their study shows how a new virus can quickly evolve dangerous new traits -– in this case, a new way to attack host cells that took only four mutations for a virus called "Lambda."
MSU and the National Science Foundation posted news releases about their study Jan. 26, and NSF also linked to a video in which Meyer explains their research.
"We were surprised at first to see Lambda evolve this new function, this ability to attack and enter the cell through a new receptor, and it happened so fast," Meyer said. "But when we re-ran the evolution experiment, we saw the same thing happen over and over." Read More