This article on the Ebola virus’ deadly glycoprotein was frightening enough, but even more terrifying to me was the fact that the researchers had genetically engineered a cold virus, one of the most easily transmitted and successful viruses on the planet, to carry the Ebola glycoprotein. I hope that modified virus never escapes the laboratory, and I hope the germ warfare laboratories and terrorists of the world don’t read Nature Medicine or Science News. Couldn’t a safer, less easily transmitted virus have been employed?

Vic Walker
El Dorado Hills, Calif.

Several of our readers have questioned the wisdom of endowing a seemingly highly contagious cold virus with a gene that gives the Ebola virus its lethality. The scientists stress that their experiments were carried out in a biocontainment laboratory especially designed to prevent accidental release of dangerous microbes. Equally important, the adenovirus used had been genetically engineered so that it can no longer replicate. In essence, it was simply used to ferry the Ebola gene into human cells. A cell infected with this adenovirus doesn’t produce new copies of the virus .–J. Travis