Gain-of-function research | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED X-Frame-Options: DENY X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN

Gain-of-function research

Gain-of-function research (GoF research or GoFR) is medical research that genetically alters an organism in a way that may enhance the biological functions of gene products. This may include an altered pathogenesis, transmissibility, or host range, i.e. the types of hosts that a microorganism can infect. This research is intended to reveal targets to better predict emerging infectious diseases and to develop vaccines and therapeutics. For example, influenza B can only infect humans and harbor seals.[1] Introducing a mutation that would allow influenza B to infect rabbits in a controlled laboratory situation would be considered a "gain of function" experiment as the virus did not previously have that function.[2][3] That type of experiment could then help reveal which parts of the virus are responsible for its host range, enabling the creation of antiviral medicines which block this function.[3]

In virology, gain-of-function research is usually employed with the intention of better understanding current and future pandemics.[4] In vaccine development, gain-of-function research is conducted in the hope of gaining a head start on a virus and being able to develop a vaccine or therapeutic before it emerges.[4] The term "gain of function" is sometimes applied more narrowly to refer to "research which could enable a pandemic-potential pathogen to replicate more quickly or cause more harm in humans or other closely-related mammals."[5][6]