Yoshihiro Kawaoka has just created a new and very deadly form of the flu virus

Yoshihiro Kawaoka has just created a new and very deadly form of the flu virus

A professor Yoshihiro Kawaoka working in a relatively low level-two bio safety lab rating at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has just created a strain of flu that can escape the human immune system. This new engineered virus is a replica of the H1N1, but engineered to be more deadly as most people today have a high level of immunity against the H1N1 flu.

However, Kawaoka was reported saying that, he “genetically manipulated H1N1 so it can “escape” our neutralising antibodies. This would make the human immune system, and population unable to resist an outbreak.”

Kawaoka is a virologist who specialises in the study of the influenza and Ebola viruses. He holds a professorship in virology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA, and at the University of Tokyo, Japan

He told The Independent, “I wanted to convert H1N1 to its pre-pandemic state to analyze the genetic changes involved.  And I have now finished his study and will submit my findings to a scientific journal. My experiment was to monitor changes to the H1N1 strain that would improve vaccines. Through a selection of immune escape viruses in the laboratory under appropriate containment conditions, we were able to identify the key regions that would enable 2009 H1N1 viruses to escape immunity.

“Viruses in clinical isolates have been identified that have these same changes in the viral protein. This shows that escape viruses emerge in nature and laboratory studies like ours have relevance to what occurs in nature.”

He continued, “We are confident our study will contribute to the field, particularly given the number of mutant viruses we generated and the sophisticated analysis applied. There are risks in all research. However, there are ways to mitigate the risks. As for all the research on influenza viruses in my laboratory, this work is performed by experienced researchers under appropriate containment and with full review and prior approval by the bio safety committee.”

Regarding the safety of this experiment, the University claims there was no risk of escape from the lab. Yet one can only wait and see what the outcome of Kawaoka research will be, and how it will be used in the future. Meanwhile, at the moment it doesn’t look good.

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