National Academies reports in 2004 and 2017 rejected export controls as a way to control dual-use research in the life sciences, such as the now-famous Australian study that gave rise to a lethal virus that causes mousepox
. Whereas the malign uses of a 100% lethal poxvirus--such as smallpox, which killed half a billion people in the twentieth century--are clear, the military uses are less so.
Ectromelia virus (ECTV) is the causative agent of mousepox
, a severe exanthematous disease of mice in laboratory colonies and has been reported worldwide in several outbreaks and causes high economic losses in biomedical research (6).
The contribution of the secreted type I IFN binding protein to virus virulence and immune evasion becomes evident in mouse models of VACV and ectromelia virus infection, where mutant viruses show an attenuated phenotype that is dramatic in the mousepox
model [13, 23].
Ramshaw, "Expression of Mouse Interleukin-4 by a Recombinant Ectromelia Virus Suppresses Cytolytic Lymphocyte Responses and Overcomes Genetic Resistance to Mousepox
," Journal of Virology 75, no.
See Ronald J Jackson et al, "Expression of Mouse Interleukin-4 by a Recombinant Ectromelia Virus Suppresses Cytolytic Lymphocyte Responses and Overcomes Genetic Resistance to Mousepox
" (2001) 75:3J Virology 1205.
One example of this lack of expertise is an article published in the Journal of Virology documenting the creation of a potent mousepox
strain that killed mice normally resistant to the virus.
The Australian mousepox
case highlights an important point: Other than warning of the dangers their discovery posed, there was little Jackson and Ramshaw could have done to make their concerns effective.
In the first study, researchers from Australia inserted the mouse IL-4 gene into the mousepox
virus with the aim of sterilizing the mice as a means of pest control.
15 March 2010 - Denmark-based biotechnology company Bavarian Nordic A/S (CPH: BAVA) said today it has published additional data demonstrating that mice could be protected from a lethal infection with mousepox
, a closely related virus to smallpox in man, by treating the animals with a single vaccination with IMVAMUNE three days after the animals had received the lethal infection.
One alarming example of such federally funded research reported in the October, 2003, issue of New Scientist, is the creation of "an extremely deadly form of mousepox
, a relative of the smallpox virus, through genetic engineering."
Drawn from material presented at the Novartis Foundation Symposium entitled "Decoding the Genomic Control of Immune Reactions" held in Canberra in March 2006, this collection covers transcriptional regulatory networks in macrophages, molecular pathways and their role in human disease, specifying the patterns of immune cell migration, human monogenic disorders and their relationship with specific infections, the genetic control of susceptibility to a strain of tuberculosis, disorders resulting from defective LAT signalosomes, smallpox and mousepox
, strategies for phenotype detection and subsequent mapping and cloning, genetic control of host-pathogen interactions, systems genetics, and regulation of the immune system.
In the first, Australian researchers found that a genetically engineered strain of mousepox
killed mice that would have been resistant (because of natural immunity or vaccination) to ordinary strains of mousepox