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Since then the Bush administration has poured billions of dollars into building a defensive wall of drugs, vaccines and special sensors that can detect dangerous pathogens.
While government scientists press their search for new drugs for old foes such as classic anthrax, a revolution in biology has ushered in an age of engineered microbes and novel ways to make them.
Or to craft cheap, efficient delivery systems that can infect large numbers of people."The biological-weapons threat is multiplying and will do so regardless of the countermeasures we try to take," said Steven M.
The new technology opens the door to new tools for defeating disease and saving lives.
But it is also possible to transform common intestinal microbes into killers. Or to resurrect bygone killers, such the 1918 influenza.
The entire code for poliovirus, and those for scores of other pathogens, is available for free on the Internet.
Armed with a printout of the code, Wimmer places an order with a U. company that manufactures custom-made snippets of DNA, called oglionucleotides.
Out-of-compliant labs should, "at a minimum," have their federal support withdrawn or lose "eligibility for future federal support," says Rutgers University molecular biologist Richard H. In 2002, the German-born molecular geneticist startled the scientific world by creating the first live, fully artificial virus in the lab.