Feeds

UK paper buys smallpox online

Well, nearly...

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

UK newspaper the Guardian has bought a sequence of smallpox virus DNA.

The sequence was 78 letters long while the full smallpox genome is 185,000 letters long. The paper claimed: "So to build a virus from scratch, a terrorist would simply order consecutive lengths of DNA along the sequence and glue them together in the correct order."

But the paper did concede: "This is beyond the skills and equipment of the kitchen chemist, but could be achieved by a well-funded terrorist with access to a basic lab and PhD-level personnel."

A scientist told The Register that the would-be terrorist would need more than a kitchen lab - he'd probably have to take over the front room and the garage as well.

The sequence was supplied by Gateshead company VH Bio Ltd.

VH Bio Ltd chairman Alan Volkers told The Reg: "My information is that the chances of producing the smallpox virus from this are infinitesimal. It has been done for smaller organisms and is possible in theory but in practise it will probably not be possible for the next 50 years."

He said the company would be happy with any regulations that it could follow and stay in business, but it cannot use current screening software for every order.

The sequence had three modifications, at the paper's request, to make it harmless. This was done so the paper would not be in breach of the 2001 Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act.

Read the whole story here. ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.