Engineered Zombie Virus possible?

I asked this question at Skeptics StackExchange but it was put on hold. I asked for further explanation as references and specific expertise.

They said that "theoretical possibility is asking for speculation. On the other hand, we only allow answers based on facts, and thus we don't allow this kind of questions."

But they also suggested that I might ask on Biology StackExchange because they said that you may have the expertise and could accept my question.

What do you think? Is it on-topic? Or can we modify it in such a way to make in on topic? For example, by focusing on the hybridization part.


  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I would consider it on-topic if relevant scientific details are provided. Also, I would not want it to come across as a tip/idea for bioterrorism. So, we may have to work on the language and tone. $\endgroup$
    Oct 20, 2014 at 10:11

1 Answer 1


It looks like this question is more about genetic engineering and behavior alteration/control than about zombies, so I would definitely downplay that part. From reading your Skeptics question, you just want to know if it's possible to combine different attributes from different viruses and create something new, and the "zombie" aspect is just there because zombies are popular nowadays, and people have an inherent fear of things they don't understand, like biotechnology in general. Is that a fair reading of your motivations?

So, if that's what you're really interested in, I would rephrase the question to something along the lines of:

One of the tropes of popular culture these days is an apocalypse brought on by the release of a supervirus that (either accidentally or on purpose) turns people into zombies, using genes from a variety of places. Although I'm not a scientist, I'm interested in genetic engineering, and I was wondering if something like this is possible using today's knowledge and technology? Could scientists, for example, combine the mental effects of rabies, measles, and the "ant zombie fungus" with the airborne transmissibility of the flu and the virulence of of Ebola?

Of course, feel free to change it how you like (I made the assumption that you're not a scientist, for example), but something like that would be completely on-topic here, and likely wouldn't get knee-jerk close votes like a "How do I make a zombie virus?" question might.

BTW, the answer to your question is, yes, it's possible depending on the genes you pick, but extremely unlikely as a) scientists are, as a whole, usually pretty ethical and this virus's only possible use would be to destroy civilization, b) working with something that nasty would be very challenging from a safety perspective, and c) it's not always possible to take a single gene and know for certain that it has a specific effect, especially when it comes to the brain. There's just a lot we don't know. But, go ahead and ask the question, and hopefully you'll get a really good, well-thought-out answer explaining everything. Good luck!


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