A U.S. government lab in Maryland plans to make the circulating monkeypox strain the most deadly in history.
The team of scientists want to equip the dominant clade – which mostly causes a rash and flu-like symptoms – with genes from another strain that causes fatal disease.
Dailymail.co.uk reports: They hope the experiment will reveal how different genes make monkeypox more deadly, and spur the development of better drugs and vaccines for humans.
It comes just a week after DailyMail.com revealed a similar experiment involving a hybrid Covid strain was conducted at Boston University.
The latest monkeypox study is being funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a research arm of National Institutes of Health (NIH).
But the modified virus ‘poses an exceptionally high risk’ to the public if it accidentally leaks, according to Dr Richard Ebright, a microbiologist at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
The team in Maryland would argue their work does not involve ‘enhancing’ a pathogen because they are swapping natural mutations rather than creating new ones, meaning the hybrid cannot be more deadly than the existing clades.
But the news will no doubt surprise many Americans that such research continues to go on in the US despite fears similar practices may have started the pandemic.
The Maryland team’s work is being led by NIAID scientist Bernard Moss at the agency’s headquarters in Bethesda.
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