Report warns that swift progress in our ability to manufacture viruses is making us vulnerable to biological attacks

The rapid rise of synthetic biology, a futuristic field of science that seeks to master the machinery of life, has raised the risk of a new generation of bioweapons, according a major US report into the state of the art.

Advances in the area mean that scientists now have the capability to recreate dangerous viruses from scratch; make harmful bacteria more deadly; and modify common microbes so that they churn out lethal toxins once they enter the body.

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