Building a Virus

SCIE1204 – Problem Set 3 – Building a Virus

Throughout this course we have covered many different aspects of viral structure, spread, genetics, infection and lifecycle. In this problem set we will get to revisit some of these properties to design our own viruses. Your task this week is to pretend you are an evil villain in a lab working to create two viruses to spread through a population. Unfortunately (for the good guys) you’ve taken Niagara College’s SCIE1204 course and are super smart and skilled at designing viruses. While its not quite a superpower you are very good at it and will design two viruses with different properties.


Virus 1 – designed to inflict the maximum damage on the target individual. The goal here is to create the most virulent and deadly virus. Spread through a population should be low, you just want the highest mortality rate for individuals.


Virus 2 – designed to rapidly spread and persist within the population for as long as possible. The goal here is not to kill the hosts but create chaos for the health care system by making a virus that can rapidly spread through a population and be very hard to remove from society (eg: by vaccination).


Below is a checklist of properties for your viruses. Fill this table out to design each virus. Some of these properties you will likely need to review your lecture notes and think carefully about what the options are. Note that some properties will have a clear correct answer for each of your viruses, while other properties may be more open ended and have multiple correct answers. Some properties will be the same in both viruses while others will be different. Your goal is to think about each item in the table and how this will impact the properties of the virus.


This problem set is due for submission to blackboard on June 22 at 5pm. Note that these tasks are either submitted on time or not at all; late submissions are not accepted.








—–please fill out the table on the next page–







Virus Property

Virus 1

highly lethal, low spread

Virus 2

long lasting, nonlethal, rapidly spread, hard to treat

Type of infection inflicted on host (virulent, latent, persistent or transformation)
High or low incidence rate
High or low Re value
Latent period (short or long)
Include genes to disable interferons (yes or no)
Retrovirus (yes or no)
Is genome in one piece or multiple pieces (allowing for reassortment)
High or low mutation rate
Path of entry into body (respiratory, food intake, bodily fluids, contact with animal)
Requires only one receptor or a combination of two receptors for entry into cells (indicate “one” or “two”)
Genome Type (DNA or RNA)
Enveloped or nonenveloped capsid