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Biosecurity and dual use

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by

Isabelle Perroteau

on 20 October 2014

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Transcript of Biosecurity and dual use

Biosecurity and dual use
The Dual Use
Dilemma
Why do the life scientists need to know the dual-use issue?

Australian mouse plague
As yet, examples of research with dual-use potential are
rare,
and a small number of incidences are commonly used (Rappert, 2008). One such example is the discovery in 2001 of a super-virulent strain of the mousepox virus by researchers in Australia (Jackson, 2001).
Australian mouse plague
Dual-use
deals with the possibility that well-intentioned scientific research with beneficial outcomes could be misused for malicious purposes by a third party, a notion which is becoming prominent in debates on biosecurity, research control, funding and publication of results.
In many respects, you are aware of biological weapons since the events of September 11, 2001 and the anthrax attacks in the US and now because of the civil war in Siria.
What some of you may not be aware of is that there has also been heightened attention since regarding the possible security implications of
life science research.
Questions are being asked internationally whether the research, techniques and knowledge in generated in places like universities might not only prevent the spread of disease but might inadvertently facilitate it. In this sense, research has a ‘dual use’ potential.
Any dual-use analysis thus involves the ethical balancing of the duty to do good with the potential to cause harm, when the harm is the result of the potential
future misuse
of the research by a third party.

It is important to note that research with dual-use potential, unlike any deliberate weapons research, is primarily conducted with beneficial ends in mind, and that any misuse is a speculative future condition of it being adapted for malicious ends.
While
biosafety
is concerned with
how research is being done
, and
biosecurity
is concerned with
what research is being done
, when considering a
dual-use
issue one must ask the question:
where is this research going?
(Rappert, 2007a)

Using the dual-use concept therefore pushes us to consider if certain areas of research should be done. Thus, research with dual-use potential presents ethical dilemmas to not only the researchers, but also the government and the public in general as it necessitates a balancing of the benefits of the research with the risk of its potential future misuse.
“‘Laboratory biosafety’
is the term used to describe the containment principles, technologies and practices that are implemented to prevent unintentional exposure to pathogens and toxins, or their accidental release.
‘Laboratory biosecurity’
refers to institutional and personal security measures designed to prevent the loss, theft, misuse, diversion or intentional release of pathogens and toxins.”

“The
regulation of
dual use
biotechnology research
is a highly contentious technical, political, and societal issue. In the language of arms control and disarmament, dual use refers to technologies intended for civilian application that can also be used for military purposes…”
“…The key issue is whether the risks associated with misuse can be reduced while still enabling critical research to go forward.”
Mice are found worldwide and the introduced house mouse probably came to Australia with the First Fleet. Mice are closely associated with human activity and are now distributed throughout the continent, especially in agricultural and urban areas.
Normally population levels are relatively low, however, when conditions are favourable mice numbers can increase exponentially to plague proportions and they become a serious pest. Similar plagues are uncommon in other countries.
The earliest reported mouse plague in Australia was in 1917 on the Darling Downs in Queensland and they have been occurring, with increasing frequency, ever since. Mouse plagues now erupt in the grain growing regions of Australia on average every three years, causing massive disruption to communities and losses to farmers.
Mice breed from 6-8 weeks of age and a female mouse is pregnant for 19 days then re-mates 1-3 days after giving birth. Litters contain 5-10 young and one breeding pair of mice and their offspring has the potential to produce 500 mice in just 21 weeks
Biotechnology
has been used to develop a
new approach
to controlling mice through limiting their reproduction with fertility vaccines.
Mice have traditionally been controlled using trapping and chemical poisoning. However, all current rodenticides are non-specific toxins and can pose a significant risk to non-target animals and human health. Poisons are also time-consuming and expensive to apply.
Researchers tried to induce sterility in mice by altering an infectious virus that affects mice: mousepox.
They insert egg protein gene into mousepox genome to create antibody response against eggs and thus rejection.
Mousepox virus was used as a simple vehicle to carry out the antigene.
Come aumentare l’efficienza di sterilizzazione?
Aumentando la risposta immunitaria

IL-4 sequence was added along with the immunogen (zona pellucida glycoprotein 3)
Genetically manipulated new virus showed unexpectedly strong virulence to kill the mice

“…They then demonstrated that this engineered mousepox virus was much more virulent than the parent virus and killed 60% of infected mice, even if the mice were from a genetically resistant strain. Even more unexpected was their observation that mice that had been vaccinated and were completely resistant to the parent virus…were now killed by the IL-4 gene-expressing virus.”

“The regulation of dual use biotechnology research is a highly contentious technical, political, and societal issue. In the language of arms control and disarmament, dual use refers to technologies intended for civilian application that can also be used for military purposes…”
“…The key issue is whether the risks associated with misuse can be reduced while still enabling critical research to go forward.”

The
Precautionary Principle (PP)
constitutes a principle for decision-making that applies to cases where serious adverse effects can occur with an unknown probability. A fundamental message of the PP is that 'on some occasions, measures against a possible hazard should be taken even if the available evidence does not suffice to treat the existence of that hazard as a scientific fact'.
Full transcript