What does China want with the world’s most powerful medical isotope?
Authorities at the University of Missouri have begun a federal investigation into what’s been described as an attempt by Chinese officials to steal the latest in hospital medicine.
The Advanced Genomic Medicine Institute (AGMI) just opened this year and at the heart of its science is a facility capable of producing four million watts of nuclear material. The milestone means it’s possible to do micro-reviews of minute amounts of DNA and RNA taken from patient samples.
The development is an enviable one, as it could soon give some doctors access to the means to diagnose cancer and provide other medical treatment before people have ever been sick.
But federal officials are now investigating if China is trying to snatch some of AGMI’s most precious product.
Among the machines AGMI has purchased is the world’s most powerful FDA-approved medical isotope, generated by the US Food and Drug Administration.
The isotope, dubbed “COVID-19”, is known for being highly potent. It is used in cancer treatment and it’s really looking to come into its own.
But AGMI is concerned that the material could have been “compromised” by Chinese authorities.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t an attempt to steal the isotope itself – rather it’s about gaining control of the research behind the technology.
“Chinese officials have attempted to obtain sensitive information and micro-data relating to a cancer-monitoring system approved by the FDA,” Robert Walsh, a spokesman for the Food and Drug Administration, said.
It’s a worrying claim as AGMI, which has a National Institute of Health designation, is the first in the U.S. to make and use the new nuclear source.
A spokesperson for the University of Missouri confirmed it had notified the Drug Enforcement Administration and the State Department about its concerns.
AGMI is concerned that Chinese officials may have “compromised” the “highly potent” isotope on the understanding it could be used to conduct military research.
If the cyber-espionage attempt is true, this could open up a huge can of worms.
With the U.S. increasingly dealing with a Chinese cyber-espionage machine, this tactic raises serious concerns about a further cyber-espionage threat.