US Lifts Ban on Super-Virus Studies


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But that doesn't mean there will be genetically modified strains of ebola in a test tube near you.

When it comes to deadly viruses, the government's first priority is stopping any outbreaks, not genetically enhancing them or engineering them. 

But on Monday, the National Institutes of Health announced that they would be lifting a three-year moratorium on backing research that involves genetically modifying deadly viruses. Studies like these were conducted to better understand the evolution and spread of these viruses.

Now that the de facto ban has been removed, it won't be a biohazard free-for-all down at the lab. Instead, NIH officials plan to put a system in place to review these studies that will include a multidisciplinary group to help weigh the benefits and risks of the project, as well as identify any ethical considerations. 

Only a few laboratories would qualify to host these studies.

“This kind of research can only be conducted in a very few places that have the highest level of containment,” Dr. Francis Collins, director of the NIH said to reporters on Monday.