Genetically modified virus

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

A genetically modified virus is a virus that has gone through genetic modification for various biomedical purposes.

General usage[edit]

Genetic modification involves the insertion or deletion of genes. When genes are inserted, they usually come from different species, which is a form of horizontal gene transfer. In nature this can occur when exogenous DNA penetrates the cell membrane for any reason but usually for domination of other diseases.

To do this artificially may require attaching the genes to a virus or just physically inserting the extra DNA into the nucleus of the intended host with a very small syringe, or with very small particles fired from a gene gun.[1] However, other methods exploit natural forms of gene transfer, such as the ability of Agrobacterium to transfer genetic material to plants,[2] or the ability of lentiviruses to transfer genes to animal cells.[3]

Lithium-ion batteries[edit]

In materials science, a genetically modified virus has been used to construct a more environmentally friendly lithium-ion battery.[4][5]

Gene therapy[edit]

Gene therapy[6] uses genetically modified viruses to deliver genes that can cure disease into human cells. Although gene therapy is still relatively new, it has had some successes. It has been used to treat genetic disorders such as severe combined immunodeficiency.[7]

Heart pacemaker[edit]

In 2012, US researchers reported that they injected a genetically modified virus into the heart of guinea pigs. This virus inserted into the heart muscles a gene called Tbx18 which enabled heartbeats. The researchers forecast that one day this technique could be used to restore the heartbeat in humans who would otherwise need electronic pacemakers.[8][9]

Cancer treatment[edit]

In 2004, researchers reported that a genetically modified virus that exploits the selfish behaviour of cancer cells might offer an alternative way of killing tumours.[10][11] Since then, several researchers have developed genetically modified oncolytic viruses that show promise as treatments for various types of cancer[12] [13] [14][15][16]


In Spain and Portugal, by 2005 rabbits had declined by as much as 95% over 50 years due diseases such as myxomatosis, rabbit haemorrhagic disease and other causes. This in turn caused declines in predators like the Iberian lynx, a critically endangered species.[17][18] In 2000 Spanish researchers investigated a genetically modified virus which might have protected rabbits in the wild against myxomatosis and rabbit haemorrhagic disease.[19] However, there was concern that such a virus might make its way into wild populations in areas such as Australia and create a population boom.[17][20] Rabbits in Australia are considered to be such a pest that land owners are legally obliged to control them.[21]

GMO lentivirus[edit]

A scientist claims she was infected by a genetically modified virus while working for Pfizer. In her federal lawsuit she says she has been intermittently paralyzed by the Pfizer-designed virus. "McClain, of Deep River, suspects she was inadvertently exposed, through work by a former Pfizer colleague in 2002 or 2003, to an engineered form of the lentivirus, a virus similar to the one that can lead to acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS."[22] The court found that McClain failed to demonstrate that her illness was caused by exposure to the lentivirus,[23] but also that Pfizer violated whistleblower laws.[24]

Biohazard research limitations[edit]

The National Institute of Health declared a research funding moratorium on select Gain-of-Function virus research in January 2015.[25] Questions about a potential escape of a modified virus from a biosafety lab and the utility of dual-use-technology, dual use research of concern (DURC), prompted the NIH funding policy revision.[26][27]


  1. ^ Johnston SA, Tang DC (1994). "Gene gun transfection of animal cells and genetic immunization". Methods in Cell Biology. 43 Pt A: 353–365. doi:10.1016/s0091-679x(08)60612-3. OCLC 31189762. PMID 7823871. 
  2. ^ Lee LY, Gelvin SB (February 2008). "T-DNA binary vectors and systems". Plant Physiol. 146 (2): 325–332. doi:10.1104/pp.107.113001. OCLC 1642351. PMC 2245830Freely accessible. PMID 18250230. 
  3. ^ Park F (October 2007). "Lentiviral vectors: are they the future of animal transgenesis?". Physiol. Genomics. 31 (2): 159–173. doi:10.1152/physiolgenomics.00069.2007. OCLC 37367250. PMID 17684037. 
  4. ^ New virus-built battery could power cars, electronic devices
  5. ^ Hidden Ingredient In New, Greener Battery: A Virus
  6. ^ Selkirk SM (October 2004). "Gene therapy in clinical medicine". Postgrad Med J. 80 (948): 560–70. doi:10.1136/pgmj.2003.017764. PMC 1743106Freely accessible. PMID 15466989. 
  7. ^ Cavazzana-Calvo M, Fischer A (June 2007). "Gene therapy for severe combined immunodeficiency: are we there yet?". J. Clin. Invest. 117 (6): 1456–65. doi:10.1172/JCI30953. PMC 1878528Freely accessible. PMID 17549248. 
  8. ^ Gallagher, James (16 December 2012) Virus rebuilds heart's own pacemaker in animal tests BBC News Health, Retrieved 5 January 2013
  9. ^ Kapoor, N.; Liang, W.; Marbán, E.; Cho, H. C. (2012). "Direct conversion of quiescent cardiomyocytes to pacemaker cells by expression of Tbx18". Nature Biotechnology. 31: 54–62. doi:10.1038/nbt.2465. PMC 3775583Freely accessible. PMID 23242162. 
  10. ^ Genetically-modified virus explodes cancer cells
  11. ^ GM virus shrinks cancer tumours in humans
  12. ^ Leja, J.; Yu, D.; Nilsson, B.; Gedda, L.; Zieba, A.; Hakkarainen, T.; Åkerström, G.; Öberg, K.; Giandomenico, V.; Essand, M. (2011). "Oncolytic adenovirus modified with somatostatin motifs for selective infection of neuroendocrine tumor cells". Gene Therapy. 18 (11): 1052–1062. doi:10.1038/gt.2011.54. PMID 21490682. 
  13. ^ Perett, Linda (30 June 2011) Measles viruses genetically modified to treat ovarian cancer National Cancer Institute, Benchmarks, Retrieved 5 September 2012
  14. ^ Breitbach, CJ; Thorne, SH; Bell, JC; Kirn, DH (2011). "Targeted and Armed Oncolytic Poxviruses for Cancer: The Lead Example of JX-594". Current pharmaceutical biotechnology. 13: 1768–1772. doi:10.2174/138920112800958922. PMID 21740365. 
  15. ^ Beasley, Deena (31 August 2011) Cancer-fighting virus shown to target tumors alone Reuters Science, Retrieved 5 September 2012
  16. ^ Garber, K. (2006). "China Approves World's First Oncolytic Virus Therapy for Cancer Treatment". JNCI Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 98 (5): 298–300. doi:10.1093/jnci/djj111. PMID 16507823. 
  17. ^ a b Ward, Dan (2005)Reversing Rabbit Decline One of the biggest challenges for nature conservation in Spain and Portugal University of Alberta, Canada, Retrieved 30 August 2012
  18. ^ Ward, Dan (December 2008). "LynxBrief" (PDF). Retrieved August 2012.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  19. ^ Bárcena, J.; Morales, M.; Vázquez, B.; Boga, J. A.; Parra, F.; Lucientes, J.; Pagès-Manté, A.; Sánchez-Vizcaíno, J. M.; Blasco, R.; Torres, J. M. (2000). "Horizontal transmissible protection against myxomatosis and rabbit hemorrhagic disease by using a recombinant myxoma virus". Journal of Virology. 74 (3): 1114–1123. doi:10.1128/JVI.74.3.1114-1123.2000. PMC 111445Freely accessible. PMID 10627521. 
  20. ^ Angulo, E.; Gilna, B. (2008). "When biotech crosses borders". Nature Biotechnology. 26 (3): 277–282. doi:10.1038/nbt0308-277. PMID 18327233. 
  21. ^ Catalyst: GM Virus - ABC TV Science
  22. ^ "Ex-Pfizer Worker Cites Genetically Engineered Virus In Lawsuit Over Firing". March 14, 2010. Retrieved July 11, 2011. 
  23. ^ "McClain v. PFIZER, INC., 692 F. Supp. 2d 229". Retrieved September 13, 2012. 
  24. ^ "A Pfizer Whistle-Blower Is Awarded $1.4 Million". The New York Times. April 2, 2010. Retrieved September 13, 2012. 
  25. ^ U.S. Government (October 17, 2014). "U.S. Government Gain-of-Function Deliberative Process and Research Funding Pause on Selected Gain-of-Function Research Involving Influenza, MERS, and SARS Viruses" (PDF). 
  26. ^ Berg, Paul (14 September 2012). "The Dual-Use Conundrum". Science. 337 (6100): 1273. doi:10.1126/science.1229789. PMID 22984033. 
  27. ^ "Biosecurity - Dual Use Research of Concern". NIH Office of Science Policy (OSP).