Original article published on November 27, 2011
So the line between science and mad science may have been crossed. Ron Fouchier of the Erasmus Medical Centre in the Netherlands and managed to modify the H5N1 Bird Flu into a virus that can transit between humans. The sole reason that it hasn’t already swept the world is because it can get into humans but it cannot leave and transit. The scary part of this is that it only takes 5 mutations (I am going to assume single nucleotide polymorphisms (a single base pair change)). This the scary part. Given the number of times that the disease replicates I am willing to bet that this could happen someday, easily within the next 10-15 years.
The next scary part is there is a backlash that this work was done at all. This is good news, we now have an idea of what we could be fighting against in the near future, we need to prepare if this ever should happen. The other backlash is coming from people who want to prevent this work from being published. There is the obvious fear that if this has been done once it can be done again. However, if this does not get published no one will be able to work on a cure. It is needed to see this work get done.
Original Article: RT News
Update (2/22/12): It seems that this research will be published in Nature later this year. This is based on a decision by the WHO I think this is the right move still but I think that there should be strict controls (maybe stricter controls) on the amount of work done on the virus.