Have you heard about this gain of functional research?
It is a trending topic in recent times. Wondering what is the gain of functional research?
Well, it is an experiment where a researcher provides a virus with suitable conditions to grow and reach its best potential.
This gain of functional research is relevant to UPSC in prelims and mains.
Therefore in this article, we will understand it in-depth and also about the latest issue regarding it.
What is the Gain of Functional Research?
Gain of functional research is a type of medical research that tries to alter a disease-causing organism such as a virus or bacteria.
This change aims to increase its growth speed, transfer rate and range of host to reveal how a disease acts and infects a host.
This helps researchers to predict characteristics of harmful diseases and develop medicines and related vaccines.
This aims to understand disease in a better way and get ready for any future pandemic potential threats.
Gain of Function?
This is known as a gain of function as the virus gains from this. They are provided with a suitable environment to develop and reach its full consequences.
With the above explanation and example, you can simply say that the gain of functional research is an experiment where a pathogen is given the power to replicate quickly, increase its transferability and host range.
And this is dangerous as this can help a disease to cause a pandemic. Therefore generally these researches are conducted under government regulations.
These experiments are regulated by institutions like the institution DURC Committee and US government agencies such as NIH’s recombinant DNA Advisory Committee.
Similar committees are found in different countries.
Regulating Body in India
Hazardous microorganisms are stored in India under “Manufacture, use, import, export, and storage of hazardous microorganisms/ Genetically engineered organism or cell rules, 1989”.
The Department of Biotechnology issues the guidelines for the establishment of containment facilities.
Most important in some countries like the US and EU regulations that an unaffiliated member must be in the lab as a representative of the public.
Benefits of Gain of Functional research
# Gain of functional research can help scientists to find out a disease beforehand and they can find counter measures such as medicines, vaccines to stop their future.
# It can help researchers to understand the virus in a better way and understand the potential threat it contains.
# This thing will stop many future pandemics, resulting from different viruses, and their locations.
# This can help scientists to be prepared for fighting against mutations of pre-existing diseases.
There are many cons for the gain of functional research:
# This experiment allows pathogens to grow to their full potential. Even the slightest carelessness or exposure to it can spread the disease rapidly.
# If the disease spreads through the lab it can cause pandemics.
# Viruses of the labs are super strong. Moreover, it provides suitable conditions to grow and attain its full potential. They can be used to instigate bio-wars.
Loss of Functional Research
Loss of functional research is the opposite concept of GoFR.
It involves researching inactivating mutations in pathogens. This aims to stop the original function of the virus.
When a virus tries to mutate the researchers alter the structure. This weakens the mutations and hence weakens the virus.
Must-Know Facts for the UPSC about the Issues with Gain of Functional Research
There have been many issues with functional research in the recent past.
In 2012, a Japanese scientist published a paper to show that the gain of functional research is helping avian flu h5n1 to transmit to humans.
This Japanese scientist group altered the virus in such a way that it can affect a human’s lung in the same way but much more dangerous than birds.
Now, this created a ruckus in the whole world and the US decided to stop funding for this experiment for other diseases, such as influenza virus or MERS.
Covid-19 has created a great ruckus in the whole world. It originated from China and transferred to the whole world. It has caused disaster in every country including big and powerful countries like the USA.
This has ignited the USA who decided to stop funding WHO to punish it for its partiality over China and imposed several restrictions on China using its influence.
Moreover, it blamed China for coronavirus and stated a possibility of the virus being developed in the lab.
Coronavirus is said to have originated in Wuhan which also has a virology institute.
Issue of Wuhan Institute of Virology
Wuhan Institute of Virology is famous for its gain of functional research and others.
The USA doubts the origin of coronavirus as a result of GoFR in Wuhan institute.
There has been a lot of heated discussion between the US and China regarding the possibility of the covid is being spread outside of the Wuhan Institute of Technology.
Many events relate to animal-based theories that COVID-19 was a result of the Wuhan Institute of virology’s experiment.
- An unknown person claimed to be a researcher of Wuhan and claimed that coronavirus is a result of lab research.
- Coronavirus originated in Wuhan.
- There is no solid evidence that Corinavirus has an animal-based origin.
Nowadays many researchers are trying to find the origin of the COVID-19 virus.
Former President Donald Trump
Former President Donald has instigated the research to find out the origin of the COVID-19 virus. But soon the WHO report came that stated that the COVID-19 is a natural virus owing origin in animals.
Though this statement was not accepted widely. Now new President Joe Biden has asked the national intelligence community to investigate the virus and its origin.
H3-Did the US Fund China for GoFR?
US Senator Rand Paul accused Dr Anthony Fauci by the National Institute of Health National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease to fund experiments to make a more deadly Coronavirus.
To this allegation, the director of NIH simply denied the statement to be infinite and stated that NIH has never and does not fund functional research in Wuhan institute.
Is the Coronavirus Result of Functional Research?
So far there has been no evidence that the virus was created using gain of function.
Some claim it is a simple allegation of the US against China. Some believe this theory.
Until we find some solid evidence we can’t claim either statement.
The gain of functional research is a controversial topic from which aspirants can expect a lot of questions in the coming UPSC exam.
GoFR has its benefits and cons and it should be practised with strict supervision.
There are times when the researchers themselves get infected by the disease and carry it to the whole world. A virus is itself a dangerous organism. But a virus from the research lab is 10 times stronger and harmful.
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