Reconstructing ancient viruses

There’s a fascinating paper in GR-in-Advance this week, in which functional viral particles are resurrected from the remnants of retroviral DNA which is integrated into the human genome. The work has caused a bit of fuss in some quarters, due to safety concerns. I seriously doubt that the viruses produced in this work are (a) going to take over the world or (b) be used to lay waste to a major city.

All experimental work in research institutions has to comply with strict safety regulations before it can proceed. I suspect that the researchers in question (based in France) might not appreciate the calls for “special review at the national or international level” by US researchers. Is bioterrorism paranoia now so pervasive that some people want “Team America: World Police – the scientists”? Get a grip.

Enough politics – it’s a fascinating demonstration of how bioinformatics and genomics can be used to drive experimental study. Go and have a read.