I think an experienced virologist would tell you that its quite a bit more complicated than
it seems. In theory, one could imagine splicing parts from different viruses together. One
problem is that these are RNA viruses (Ebola and Influenza) which make genetic manipuplation
a nightmare (thankfully, in this case). The other factors are sequence context and size
problems with the recombinant. Building recombinant Adenoviruses for gene therapy has been
hard enough - and we're talking DNA. You can't really expect to smack 20 Kb and 30 Kb of
DNA together,transcribe it to RNA, and expect it to fit into the original capsid let alone
function properly. So, there are physical limits and rules which block such endeavors. Of
course, the moral aspects of such ideas should be enough to keep the best virologists from
participating. Actually it becomes quite ironic that with all of our tools, nature is still
the far better genetic engineer.
Scott Bartz (original):
I got to admit that I am not a virologist or anything and my only
training about virus diseases came from a NBC class in that Marines. I
guess what I'd like some more information about is the following:
1. I know that most of the time when a mutation occurs, the virus i
more or less degenerated into someting less harmful or requiring a vector
that is harder to come into contact with. Is it possible that something
like Ebola could become an airborne vector with time?
2. Ebola from what I've heard is along the lines of hemoragic
fever. What are other types of diseases that produce the same symptoms
and are there any cures or vaccines.
3. Given the information I heard about genetic splicing, is it
possible for some nut-case to transfer the Ebola virus into something
like a flu virus for NBC warfare? Not necessarily a US project, but
something a rouge government might try.
Like I said, I have little to no experience in this area, but
just a general curiosity about it all. Maybe someone out there can fill
me in on these questions. Thanks in advance.
Scott A. Bartz
Peter C. Angeletti
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Pangeletti at bmg.bhs.uab.edu