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Engineered Mouse Virus Spurs Bioweapon Fears

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Science  26 Jan 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5504, pp. 585
DOI: 10.1126/science.291.5504.585

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA-- The surprising virulence of a virus genetically altered to reduce rodent infestations in Australia has raised alarm over whether such research could be hijacked to produce biological weapons. In an unusual twist, those sounding the alarm are not environmental activists but the scientists themselves. Despite their warning, it's not clear whether the unexpected result, which turned a vector into a potent killer, could be duplicated in viruses that affect humans. But scientists say it should serve as a warning to the community to be more aware of the potentially harmful consequences of their work.