Scientists at Boston University have created a variant of the coronavirus that killed 80% of the “humanized mice” it infected. What could possibly go wrong? And what are “humanized mice?”
Are dipping further into genetic modification than we should? In an effort to research what makes Omicron so transmissible, the researchers cobbled the Omicron spike protein to the original strain of Covid-19. The resulting virus was five times more infectious than Omicron and far deadlier. Instead of just getting or cold, or not even knowing you have it, researchers made sure it killed a majority of the mice they used to study their creation.
Role of spike in the pathogenic and antigenic behavior of SARS-CoV-2 BA.1 Omicronhttps://t.co/Zpt1LVtUuy
— Paul D. Thacker (@thackerpd) October 17, 2022
“In…mice, while Omicron causes mild, non-fatal infection, the Omicron S-carrying virus inflicts severe disease with a mortality rate of 80 percent,” the researchers wrote, adding that while the spike protein is responsible for infectivity, changes to other parts of its structure are responsible for its deadliness.
Researchers attached Omicron’s spike to the original wildtype strain that first emerged in Wuhan at the start of the pandemic.
The researchers looked at how mice fared against the new hybrid strain compared to the original Omicron variant. –Daily Mail
No one seems too concerned about the “humanized mice” used either. This is also a genetic experiment and we could also ask what could wrong when we start genetically modifying literally everything.
A humanized mouse is a general term that refers to a mouse that has been engrafted with something from a human. This could be a short strand of human DNA, human tissue, a human tumor, a humanized immune system, or parts of the human microbiome.
Another powerful approach is to re-create parts of the humanized immune system with a mouse. In this instance, a mouse with little or no mouse immune system is injected with specific human stem cells typically derived either from fetal tissue or cord blood. These cells create human T cells, B cells, and other immune cells in the mouse enabling scientists to explore how human immune systems attack a wide range of diseases including, for instance, polio, SARS-CoV-2 virus, cancer, and others. These mice can also be used to test how well both chemical and biologically based pharmaceuticals can treat infectious diseases, different types of cancer, and irregularities of the immune system like diabetes and lupus. –The Jackson Laboratory
None of this seems like it was necessary to be done. Humanity is on a very slippery slope with experiments like these. Nothing about this is “right,”
This study provides important insights into Omicron pathogenicity. We show that spike, the single most mutated protein in Omicron, has an incomplete role in Omicron attenuation. In in vitro infection assays, the Omicron spike-bearing ancestral SARS-CoV-2 (Omi-S) exhibits much higher replication efficiency compared with Omicron. Similarly, in K18-hACE2 mice, Omi-S contrasts with non-fatal Omicron and causes a severe disease leading to around 80% mortality. This suggests that mutations outside of spike are major determinants of the attenuated pathogenicity of Omicron in K18-hACE2 mice. Further studies are needed to identify those mutations and decipher their mechanisms of action. –Biorxiv
Further studies? Perhaps we stop trying to make things more deadly and genetically modifying everything on the planet in the name of “science.”