Scientists Revived the Spanish Flu Virus, What Could Go Wrong?

Biologists recreated a virus responsible for the 1918 flu pandemic (also called the Spanish Flu) [wiki], which caused some 50 to 100 million people deaths in just two years, from tissue samples gathered from corpses.

Now, they've found that the reconstructed virus is terrifyingly lethal in monkeys:

Some scientists question the wisdom of reconstructing such a deadly virus. Do the benefits outweigh the risks?

Those who carried out the macaque study say yes, as a better understanding of how it acts in a system similar to humans' will help scientists treat future pandemics. The study was carried out in the biohazard level 4 labs of the Public Health Agency of Canada in Winnipeg. Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his colleagues infected macaques with the 1918 virus or a contemporary flu strain3. Whereas the contemporary virus caused mild symptoms in the lungs, the 1918 flu spread quickly throughout the respiratory system and the monkeys died within days. The damage parallels reports of human patients in 1918.

The team reports that the 1918 virus caused the monkeys' immune systems to go into overdrive, causing immune proteins to be expressed at abnormally high levels and attack the body — what immunologists call a cytokine storm.

By the way, when they sequenced the Spanish Flu virus, the scientists proposed that the virus was derived from an avian source. Bird flu [wiki], anyone?

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I find it funny how people worry so much about stuff like this virus somehow escaping the lab and infecting the world, instead of worrying about much more riskier things like driving to work without a seatbelt on. (or slipping in the tub)

I guess people just find it easier to live with the more likely mundane risks, than the 1 in a trillion unexpected risks.

I guess this is the results of watching too many movies and TV shows. "28 Days Later" anyone?
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The nomenclature of flu viruses can be quite confusing. The H and N stand for surface proteins (hemagglutinin and neuraminidase) and the numbers denote variants of the proteins.

Squ - thanks for the heads up. I've re-read the sentence and fixed the glaring error (I hope! It's late ...)
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Alex, you are correct to connect the 1918 Flu Pandemic to the current outbreak of Bird Flu. As you said, Bird flu's scientific name is H5N1, as far as I can remember (from a documentary comparing 1918 Flu to Bird Flu), the 1918 Spanish Flu was named H1N1. This is the most likely reason for biologists to bring back this deadly virus, to help research into H5N1 in preparation for the inevitable Human strain.

Another little fact about both these virus' is that their effects are felt less the older you are, with the 18-25 age bracket hit worse. This is due to the aforementioned "cytokine storm". Put basicly, Cytokines are in the body to fight infection, but they can't fight this strain of Flu, even though they try by making more and more of themselves until the unfortunate persons lungs fill with liquid and they drown.

Plus, aj is correct, the chances of finding a cure are 1 in a billion, we have to wait for it to hit before we can create the drugs to be used in preventing people from catching it. Even worse, if you stop taking these drugs for more then a couple of days you will be completely defenceless. Unfortunately, we can all see what is very likely to happen here. Drug companies won't be able to match the huge need in time, and people will fight in the streets for their chance to get a dosage.

Let's just hope it doesn't come down to that.
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"Biologists recreated a virus responsible for the 1918 flu pandemic (also called the Spanish Flu) [wiki], which caused some 50 to 100 million people in just two years, from tissue samples gathered from corpses."
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@ Aramax
The flu is a virus, so the prospects of the government finding a cure is pretty limited. I suspect the research is more focused on attempting to better understand the spread and treatment of the flu. While there is a huge danger in bringing something lik this back to life, if handled correctly the benefits are certainly worthwhile, as the concensus is its just a matter of time till the next pandemic
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