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Limit for Resurrecting Old Viruses

Except for a handful of vials in the US and Russia, the smallpox virus has been eradicated from the globe, writes Leonard Adleman, a professor of computer science and molecular biology at the University of Southern California, in a New York Times op-ed. But, he adds that the virus has found a second host — the computer.

In the 1990s, Adleman notes, a team including Craig Venter sequenced the virus' genome, and it's easily accessible to anyone who searches online for it. While Adleman says that a computer file can't kill you, it's becoming easier for labs to re-create viruses from just their genome sequence.

"Do we sit and wait for the day when someone releases resurrected smallpox on an unvaccinated world?" he asks. "I'm a scientist, not a policy expert. But would it be wise for us to consider limiting the distribution of the tools of this emerging technology?"

The Scan

Could Cost Billions

NBC News reports that the new Alzheimer's disease drug from Biogen could cost Medicare in the US billions of dollars.

Not Quite Sent

The Biden Administration likely won't meet its goal of sending 80 million SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses abroad by the end of the month, according to the Washington Post.

DTC Regulation Proposals

A new report calls on UK policymakers to review direct-to-consumer genetic testing regulations, the Independent reports.

PNAS Papers on Mosquito MicroRNAs, Acute Kidney Injury, Trichothiodystrophy

In PNAS this week: microRNAs involved in Aedes aegypti reproduction, proximal tubule cell response to kidney injury, and more.