• Sun. Mar 3rd, 2024

I had assumed that this kind of study had been put on hold, at least in the United States, after all the controversy surrounding gain-of-function studies on viruses over the past few years, particularly the Covid-19 virus. In fact, the debate became so heated that the NIH announced in May 2021 that it would not sponsor such research.
However, some researchers are still interested in gain-of-function research. The following was done in a recent study by a team of virologists from Boston University, which was just published on the preprint server bioRxiv. They coupled an early 2020 strain of the Covid-19 virus with the spike protein from the Omicron BA.1 strain of SARS-CoV-2 (that is, the type that swept throughout the world last winter, frequently eluding the protection provided by vaccines).
They obtained a brand-new, unheard-of strain of Covid-19 as a result of their experiment. Was it deadlier? Of course!
The original Omicron virus, which produced “mild, non-fatal infection” in the laboratory mice utilised by the BU researchers, was used in their investigations. However, 80% of the mice died when they were exposed to the new, recombinant virus they named Omi-S. To paraphrase what they wrote:
80% of those who contract the Omicron S-carrying virus will die as a result of their severe illness.
That’s fantastic, I must say. The new recombinant virus also multiplied significantly more quickly in mice, according to the researchers, who discovered that “Omi-S-infected mice produced 30-fold more infectious virus particles compared with Omicron-infected Omi-S may develop 30 times more quickly than the typical Omicron strain, yes you read it right.
Readers, this is what we mean when we talk about “gain of function” study. The researchers combined sequences from two distinct Covid-19 virus strains, one of which was very mild, to produce a new strain that is much more contagious and fatal. As numerous scientists (and others) have noted, research like this is fraught with dangers, chief among them the possibility that a lab mishap could spark a new epidemic that kills millions of people.
absent the context? Here is what the researchers themselves stated in the abstract—the first sentence—of their paper: We created a chimeric recombinant SARS-CoV-2 that included the Omicron S gene in the backbone of an original SARS-CoV-2 strain, and we compared it to the Omicron variation that is now in circulation. While Omicron induces a mild, non-fatal infection in K18-hACE2 mice, the Omicron S-carrying virus causes a severe illness with an 80% fatality rate.
That is the scientists’ own assertion, and it is not misplaced. This shocking fatality rate was being emphasised by the writers themselves.
For BU, the experiments also pose another issue. The researchers themselves and Boston University do not appear to have told NIH about their study, which is necessary for gain-of-function research, despite being supported by many NIH grants.
“We followed all regulatory guidelines and standards. We were under no duty to report this research in accordance with NIAID’s policies and procedures for two reasons. The studies detailed in this article were carried out using Boston University funding. Although NIAID did not directly support this research, their assistance in developing the platforms and technologies employed in it warrants acknowledgment “says the institution.

Boston University Gain-Of-Function Research Produces The Deadly New Covid-19 Virus. Who Came Up With This Idea?

ByJosh Taylor

Oct 25, 2022

I had assumed that this kind of study had been put on hold, at least in the United States, after all the controversy surrounding gain-of-function studies on viruses over the past few years, particularly the Covid-19 virus. In fact, the debate became so heated that the NIH announced in May 2021 that it would not sponsor such research.
However, some researchers are still interested in gain-of-function research. The following was done in a recent study by a team of virologists from Boston University, which was just published on the preprint server bioRxiv. They coupled an early 2020 strain of the Covid-19 virus with the spike protein from the Omicron BA.1 strain of SARS-CoV-2 (that is, the type that swept throughout the world last winter, frequently eluding the protection provided by vaccines).
They obtained a brand-new, unheard-of strain of Covid-19 as a result of their experiment. Was it deadlier? Of course!
The original Omicron virus, which produced “mild, non-fatal infection” in the laboratory mice utilised by the BU researchers, was used in their investigations. However, 80% of the mice died when they were exposed to the new, recombinant virus they named Omi-S. To paraphrase what they wrote:
80% of those who contract the Omicron S-carrying virus will die as a result of their severe illness.
That’s fantastic, I must say. The new recombinant virus also multiplied significantly more quickly in mice, according to the researchers, who discovered that “Omi-S-infected mice produced 30-fold more infectious virus particles compared with Omicron-infected Omi-S may develop 30 times more quickly than the typical Omicron strain, yes you read it right.
Readers, this is what we mean when we talk about “gain of function” study. The researchers combined sequences from two distinct Covid-19 virus strains, one of which was very mild, to produce a new strain that is much more contagious and fatal. As numerous scientists (and others) have noted, research like this is fraught with dangers, chief among them the possibility that a lab mishap could spark a new epidemic that kills millions of people.
absent the context? Here is what the researchers themselves stated in the abstract—the first sentence—of their paper: We created a chimeric recombinant SARS-CoV-2 that included the Omicron S gene in the backbone of an original SARS-CoV-2 strain, and we compared it to the Omicron variation that is now in circulation. While Omicron induces a mild, non-fatal infection in K18-hACE2 mice, the Omicron S-carrying virus causes a severe illness with an 80% fatality rate.
That is the scientists’ own assertion, and it is not misplaced. This shocking fatality rate was being emphasised by the writers themselves.
For BU, the experiments also pose another issue. The researchers themselves and Boston University do not appear to have told NIH about their study, which is necessary for gain-of-function research, despite being supported by many NIH grants.
“We followed all regulatory guidelines and standards. We were under no duty to report this research in accordance with NIAID’s policies and procedures for two reasons. The studies detailed in this article were carried out using Boston University funding. Although NIAID did not directly support this research, their assistance in developing the platforms and technologies employed in it warrants acknowledgment “says the institution.