Ex-Pfizer Worker Cites Genetically Engineered Virus In Lawsuit Over Firing

By Edmund H. Mahoney for the Hartford Courant:

Medical experts will be watching closely Monday when a scientist who says she has been intermittently paralyzed by a virus designed at the Pfizer laboratory where she worked in Groton opens a much anticipated trial that could raise questions about safety practices in the dynamic field of genetic engineering.

Organizations involved in workplace safety and responsible genetic research already have seized on the federal lawsuit by molecular biologist Becky McClain as an example of what they claim is evidence that risks caused by cutting-edge genetic manipulation have outstripped more slowly evolving government regulation of laboratories.

McClain, of Deep River, suspects she was inadvertently exposed, through work by a former Pfizer colleague in 2002 or 2003, to an engineered form of the lentivirus, a virus similar to the one that can lead to acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS. Medical experts working for McClain believe the virus has affected the way her body channels potassium, leading to a condition that causes complete paralysis as many as 12 times a month.

“If a worker in a plant as sophisticated as Pfizer is becoming infected with a genetically engineered virus, then I think the potential is everywhere,” said Jeremy Gruber, president of the Council for Responsible Genetics, a public interest group created to explore the implications of genetic technologies…

[continues in the Hartford Courant]

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  • Anonymous

    As a Groton resident, I find myself perversely thrilled by the thought of genetically engineered viruses leaking out and infecting the local townsfolk. We’re also home to the headquarters of the U.S. Navy’s fleet of attack submarines, and growing up just a mile or two away from such a prominent target for Russian ICBM’s in the 80′s instilled in me a sense of End Times paranoia that today’s youth, sadly, miss out on. It’s good to know that there’s stil plenty of opportunity to instill Fear and Loathing in tomorrow’s Disinfonauts at an early age.

  • Rheokhu

    As a Groton resident, I find myself perversely thrilled by the thought of genetically engineered viruses leaking out and infecting the local townsfolk. We're also home to the headquarters of the U.S. Navy's fleet of attack submarines, and growing up just a mile or two away from such a prominent target for Russian ICBM's in the 80's instilled in me a sense of End Times paranoia that today's youth, sadly, miss out on. It's good to know that there's stil plenty of opportunity to instill Fear and Loathing in tomorrow's Disinfonauts at an early age.

  • Dan Mac

    It starts to make me feel–maybe the only hope is that the whole shit house goes down fast so a few might survive. But what a horrible feeling. It seems There is less and less hope for Planet Earth. Hopefully, there is hope elsewhere. But then I remember all the good bacteria, fungus, and viruses…. And again I feel certain, life will thrive on.

  • Dan Mac

    It starts to make me feel–maybe the only hope is that the whole shit house goes down fast so a few might survive. But what a horrible feeling. It seems There is less and less hope for Planet Earth. Hopefully, there is hope elsewhere. But then I remember all the good bacteria, fungus, and viruses…. And again I feel certain, life will thrive on.

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