Virus from a test tube: how biological weapons of mass destruction are created and where they are used

Artificial viruses

Many viruses can be obtained de novo, that is, from scratch, and the first artificial virus

was established in 2002.Despite some misinterpretations, this process does not synthesize the virus itself, but its genomic DNA (in the case of DNA viruses) or a complementary copy of the DNA of its genome (in the case of RNA viruses).

Viruses of many families have artificial DNA orRNA, if introduced into a cell, exhibits infectious properties. In other words, such viruses contain all the information necessary for the formation of new viruses.

This technology is currently used fordevelopment of new types of vaccines. The ability to create artificial viruses has far-reaching implications, since a virus cannot die out as long as its genomic sequence is known and there are cells that are sensitive to it.

Complete genomic sequences these days2,408 different viruses (including smallpox) are publicly available in an online database maintained by the US National Institutes of Health.

Photomicrograph showing the cytopathic effects caused by herpes simplex virus type 1. Pap test

How viruses are made into biological weapons

The ability of viruses to cause devastating epidemics in humans raises concerns that viruses may be used as biological weapons.

Biological weapons are pathogenicmicroorganisms or their spores, viruses, bacterial toxins infecting people and animals, intended for mass destruction of enemy personnel and population, farm animals, crops, contamination of food and water sources, as well as damage to certain types of military equipment and military materials.

Biological weapons also include delivery vehicles for pathogenic microorganisms and animal vectors. It is a weapon of mass destruction and is prohibited under the 1925 Geneva Protocol.

Additional concerns were raised by the successfulrecreation of the harmful Spanish flu virus in the laboratory. The smallpox virus is another example. Throughout history, it devastated many countries until its final extermination. Officially, smallpox virus samples are stored only in two places in the world - in two laboratories in Russia and the United States.

Fears that it might be used asweapons are not entirely groundless; Smallpox vaccine sometimes has severe side effects - in recent years, before the virus was officially eradicated, more people became seriously ill from the vaccine than from the virus, so smallpox vaccination is no longer universally practiced. For this reason, most of the modern population of the Earth has practically no resistance to smallpox.

Methods of using bacterial and viral agents

Means of delivery and methods of using biological weapons, as a rule, are:

  • missile warheads;
  • aerial bombs;
  • artillery mines and shells;
  • packages (bags, boxes, containers) dropped from aircraft;
  • special devices that scatter insects from aircraft;
  • sabotage methods.

The disease in this case can occur inas a result of direct contact with contaminated objects. It is also possible to deliberately leave infectious patients when leaving, so that they become a source of infection.

When bursting ammunition equippedbacterial recipe, a bacterial cloud is formed, consisting of tiny droplets of liquid or solid particles suspended in the air. The cloud, spreading in the wind, scatters and settles on the ground, forming an infected area, the area of ​​which depends on the amount of the recipe, its properties and wind speed.

The problem is that outside the natural habitat and without transmission mechanisms corresponding to its ecological environment, the causative agent of the disease will not be transmitted to people.

Virus budding from the host cell

Features of destruction of biological weapons

In case of bacterial or viral infectionmeans, the disease does not occur immediately, almost always there is a latent (incubation) period during which the disease does not manifest itself as external signs, and the affected person does not lose combat capability.

Some diseases (plague, cholera, Siberianulcer) can be transmitted from a sick person to a healthy one and, spreading rapidly, cause epidemics. It is rather difficult to establish the fact of the use of bacterial agents and to determine the type of pathogen, since neither microbes nor toxins have any color, no smell, or taste, and the effect of their action can manifest itself after a long period of time.

Detection of bacteria and viruses is only possibleby conducting special laboratory tests, which takes a long time, which makes it difficult to timely carry out measures to prevent epidemic diseases.

Sign of the use of bacteriological weaponsthere are also used ammunition lying on the ground (intended for it) and other means of its delivery. In some cases, there is also a sudden appearance or a sharp increase in the number of certain insects or rodents (for example, fleas in the snow).

Modern strategic meansbiological weapons use mixtures of viruses and bacterial spores to increase the likelihood of lethal outcomes when used, however, as a rule, strains that are not transmitted from person to person are used in order to geographically localize their impact and avoid their own losses as a result.

Artificial viruses can be used for good

Scientists from the NPL (National Physicallaboratory), working with partners from the universities of Cambridge and Exeter, as well as from King's College London, have developed an artificial virus to fight superbugs

The increase in the number of superbugs is causing seriousa concern in the medical community as bacteria are evolving to avoid existing treatments faster than new antibiotics are being developed. Instead of creating new drugs, the group of experts took a different path.

Authors of the work, relying on the principles of architecturevirus, created a synthetic protein Ψ-capsid, which is assembled from a small molecular motif or a characteristic sequence of nucleotides (in DNA, RNA) or amino acids (in proteins). The motive was found in human cells. It can recognize molecular patterns associated with pathogens on bacterial surfaces.

It is noted that thanks to the combinationIn nanoscale and single-celled imaging, the team confirmed that capsids cause irreparable damage to bacteria. Capsids were equally effective in any of their chiral forms, which could render them invisible to the host's immune system, and would also allow them to kill various phenotypes of bacteria and superbugs without cytotoxicity in vitro and in vivo.

Is the coronavirus artificial?

It is impossible to say for sure yet.We invite you to familiarize yourself with a recent unusual study in which British and Norwegian scientists Angus Dalglish and Birger Sørensen claim that COVID-19 was created in a laboratory.

Dalglish and Sørensen discovered in the virus“Unique fingerprints” and evidence that it does not have a credible source. Therefore, according to scientists, the virus could appear only as a result of laboratory manipulations.

According to them, they previously tried to publishthe results of his research, but were rejected by scientific journals that were confident in the natural origin of the virus. Now, in a number of countries, they are again talking about the need to revise the versions of the occurrence of COVID-19, the publication points out.

Researchers drew attention to experiments carried out in a laboratory in Wuhan between 2002 and 2019 and found that
their Chinese counterparts, some of whom work in conjunction with American universities, have been doing research to modify the virus in ways that make it more infectious.

The authors of the study believe that the "basis" wasa coronavirus found in Chinese cave bats was taken and a new "spike" was added to it, eventually resulting in the more infectious and deadly SARS-CoV-2.

About what could have been done with the virusmanipulation, says Dalglish and Sørensen discovered a chain of four amino acids that have a positive charge. This allows the virus "to cling tightly to negatively charged parts of human cells, like a magnet, and thus become more infectious," the Norwegian scientist explained.

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