scientists in the us have called for genetic maps to be made of all the possible pathogens that could be used as biological weapons. Such information could be used to develop quick tests to detect and thwart any attack by other countries or terrorists, they claim. Speaking at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Anaheim, California, the scientists said that such a bioterrorism genome project could be undertaken along the same guidelines as the Human Genome Project, which aims to map every gene in the human body.
"If we had the genetic code of every pathogen and rapid detection methods... it would act as a deterrent," said Craig Venter, co-founder of biotech firm Celera Genomics, based in Rockville, Maryland. Frank Young, a former us Food and Drug Administration researcher, who advised the government on the risks of biological attack, supported Venter. Knowing the genome of every pathogen and every potential bioterrorism agent would allow researchers to quickly detect any biological attack, he said. "It will tip the balance in favour of defence over offence," said Venter.
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