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Danger Virus

Series : Squatters

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  00:52:00  2005  Color  Sound

Though they have mobilized thousands of scientists and researchers throughout the world for a century, viruses, those invisible microorganisms capable of causing fearful diseases in humans, for the most part remain an enigma for modern science.
Able to mutate, to adapt, to use host cell mechanisms to reproduce themselves with astounding rapidity, unpredictable, viruses sometimes seem to have presented humanity with a veritable challenge.
Nearly 100 years after the terrifying Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918-19 that claimed over 25 million victims around the world, research teams still attempt to understand how this virus was able to attain such a huge magnitude.
Working on samples of the lungs and brains of victims buried in the frozen earth of the Svalbard Archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, they hope to be able to analyze the traces of the fatal virus, preserved thanks to the extremely low temperatures.
However this epidemic that left such a mark in history is but one example among many others. The names of the numerous viruses detected around the world over the years possess a threatening resonance: smallpox, poliomyelitis, hepatitis C, dengue fever, AIDS, Ebola, Hanta, Nipah. While some, such as smallpox and poliomyelitis are known and have been harnessed, others - AIDS, Ebola and Hanta - are the subject of intensive research.
New viruses, such as the Nipah virus that recently emerged in Malaysia, and mutant forms related to existing viruses are regularly reported in different parts of the planet.
Laboratories in which the world's most efficient scientists work together have launched a veritable race against the clock to learn more about the most immediately threatening viruses and how to control them one day. Important studies are also being carried out by biologists in the field to trace and investigate viruses.
More worrying still than the viruses themselves are the research programs for bacteriological weapons using viruses that have been instigated by certain countries, such as the USA and the ex-USSR, over the last few decades.
Once confined to a strategic and military environment under maximum security protection, there is now a risk that these fatal substances will provide sustenance for bio-terrorism. After the fall of the USSR, many former KGB agents entered into service for the Mafia, and they have created channels for bacteriological weapons through dozens of small pharmaceutical companies.
Yet, although a virus may be synonymous with disease, it can be positive and beneficial in certain cases, and even an effective agent in the battle against disease, notably cancer. Initial clinical tests with the H1 parvovirus suggest that it can halt the growth of cancerous tumors in man. A mutant form of the herpes virus could be beneficial in the treatment of skin cancers, according to the latest work of research teams at the University of Glasgow. A few examples illustrating the new paths being explored at present in virology, and that could lead us to reconsider our perceptions of viruses.

Audiovisual processPrises de vues réelles. Utilisation d'animations, de films d'archives, de photographies et d'images satellites.
Interventions en son direct (français et anglais sous titrées) et commentaire voix off. Musique (Gilbert Grilli).
Date of broadcasting19/01/2006 (France 5)
Rediffusions2008/09/01 (France 5)  
Rewards7ème festival international du film de santé "ImageSanté" à Liège (Belgique), 2006 : 2ème mention environnement.


Disease ; Medical research ; Virus ; Avian flu

Technical Sheet
Item No.1757
PublicLarge audience
Original SupportDigital Beta
Ark Identifier