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The World in Medicine
February 14, 2001

Biowarfare Warning

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JAMA. 2001;285(6):725. doi:10.1001/jama.285.6.725-JWM10001-3-1

Australian scientists who inadvertently created a deadly mouse virus issued a warning last month that the global Biological Weapons Convention should be strengthened to reflect concern that their approach could be employed to modify human viruses for use as biological weapons.

The lethal mouse virus was the unintended creation of investigators at the Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) for the Biological Control of Pest Animals, Canberra. The researchers, who were attempting to create a contraceptive vaccine to be used for pest control, used mousepox virus as a vector to introduce genes for mouse egg proteins into mice for the purpose of stimulating antiegg antibodies to curb fertility. (The types of mice used in the study are normally resistant to mousepox infection.)

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