Reasons Why Gain of Function Research Matters to the Scientific Community?

Reasons Why Gain of Function Research Matters to the Scientific Community?

As the origin of the COVID-19 virus still remains unclear, scientists and researchers of the US government have started paying close attention to deeper examinations. 

Gain-of-function research is a scientific approach that involves the manipulation of pathogens to increase their function and virulence. This research has been a topic of controversy in recent years, as some experts argue that it poses significant risks. However, others insist that it is essential for scientific progress. In this article, we will discuss the reasons why gain of function research matters.

What Does It Mean by Gain of Function Research?

Gain of function research refers to the introduction of genetic changes in pathogens to increase their function or virulence. This research is conducted to understand the mechanisms of infectious diseases, develop new vaccines and treatments, and predict potential pandemics. However, the research is not without risks. The modified pathogens can escape the laboratory and cause a pandemic, or the research can be used to develop biological weapons.

Why Do Researchers Consider Deadly Pathogens for Gain of Function Work?

As per Nature, researchers consider deadly pathogens for a gain of function work because they want to understand how they work and how they can be stopped. By studying the pathogens, researchers can develop effective vaccines and treatments to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. However, the research can also be used to develop biological weapons. Therefore, the decision to conduct gain-of-function research on deadly pathogens must be made with caution and with the utmost care.

What are the Examples of Gain of Function Research?

There are several examples of gain of function research, including the study of the H5N1 avian influenza virus. In 2011, researchers conducted a study to determine whether the H5N1 virus could be transmitted between mammals. The research involved the modification of the virus to enhance its transmission, which led to concerns about the potential for a pandemic. Another example is the study of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. Researchers have conducted gain-of-function research on the virus to understand its transmission and develop effective treatments and vaccines.

How Do Researchers Determine Which Gain of Function Research Comes with Extreme Risks?

Researchers determine which gain of Function Research comes with extreme risks by assessing the potential consequences of the research. They consider the likelihood of the modified pathogen escaping the laboratory and causing a pandemic, the possibility of the research being used to develop biological weapons, and the potential benefits of the research. The researchers also consider the risks and benefits of conducting the research in different settings, such as high-security laboratories or lower-security laboratories.

Conclusion

In conclusion, gain of function research is a controversial topic that has divided the scientific community. Some argue that it is essential for scientific progress, while others insist that it poses significant risks. However, gain of function research can help scientists develop effective vaccines and treatments to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Therefore, the decision to conduct gain of function research on deadly pathogens must be made with caution and with the utmost care. The potential benefits of the research must be weighed against the risks to public health and safety.