• Ohio man indicted on possession of deadly bioagent ricin

    Jeff Boyd Levenderis, 54, of Akron, Ohio has been indicted by a federal grand jury for a false statement and for the possession of ricin, a Schedule 1 substance capable of being processed and employed as a biological or chemical weapon according to the Chemical Weapons Convention; Levenderis’ attorney has said that no evidence has been found that his client had ever intended to harm anyone

  • U.S. will carefully watch, but not regulate, synthetic biology

    White House commission says biologists can engineer custom organisms from synthetic genomes, with the government watching but not regulating the research; critics claim synthetic biology will create unnatural organisms likely to wreak havoc on the larger ecosystem if they got loose in the wild — to say nothing of the risks of bioterrorists using design pathogens; self-regulation, say the critics, is equivalent to no regulation

  • Hope for Plum Island in unease about Kansas biolab?

    Last month the National Research Council issued a safety report which concluded that there is a 70 percent chance of pathogen release from the proposed Manhattan, Kansas BioLab-4 over a 50-year period; The New York congressional delegation points out that upgrading safety at Plum island will cost far less than the $400 million price tag for the Kansas lab

  • More questions raised about security of Boston BioLab

    Boston University has opened a $178 million biolab in a residential area in Boston’s South End; the facility, in which lethal diseases such as Ebola and the plague will be studies, houses only administrative staff, pending state approval; that approval depends on a final risk assessment review — but a new study by the National Research Council questioned the methodology of ongoing risk assessment by contractor Tetra Tech

  • Report: DHS underestimates risks of accidental pathogen release at Kansas BioLab

    Manhattan, Kansas, is the proposed location of a new, $450 million BioLab44 DHS research facility; a National Academy of Sciences panel report says that a risk assessment by DHS of the new facility vastly underestimates the risk of an accidental pathogen release from the lab and the associated costs; the NAS report also said last month’s analysis failed to learn from fifteen major accidental releases of the foot and mouth virus around the world

  • Safety of planned Kansas Biosafety-Level 4 lab questioned

    A new National Research Council report finds “several major shortcomings” in a DHS assessment of risks associated with operating the proposed National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan, Kansas; one example: the report says there is nearly a 70 percent chance over the 50-year lifetime of the facility that a release of foot-and-mouth disease could result in an infection outside the laboratory, impacting the economy by estimates of $9 billion to $50 billion; roughly 9.5 percent of the U.S. cattle inventory lies within a 200-mile radius of the facility; another concern of the committee was the lack of an early-release detection and response system, clinical isolation facilities, and world-class infectious disease clinicians experienced in diagnosing and treating laboratory staff or communities exposed to dangerous pathogens that affect people

  • India to be home to the 7th CDC global disease detection center

    One result of President Obama’s visit to India is the agreement to set up a global disease detection centre in India; the center will be part of the global network of detection facilities supervised by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); the Indian center — the seventh CDC global facility — will monitor deadly pathogens and viruses, outbreak information, coordinate responses, and support the WHO’s Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network to allow rapid identification, confirmation and response to outbreaks of international importance

  • Work begins on the new U.S. premier BioLab

    DHS has released $40 million to allow work to begin on the U.S. new National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, located on the campus of Kansas State University; the lab will replace the aging lab on Plum Island as the premier research center to combat the threat of naturally occurring animal diseases or agroterrorism; the Levl 4 BioLab will conduct research on human and animal disease to which there is yet no known cure

  • Garage-lab bugs: spread of bioscience increases bioterrorism risks

    There is a new fear about the possible source of a bioterror attack: scientific advances now enable amateur scientists to carry out once-exotic experiments, such as DNA cloning, which could be put to criminal use; as recently as a decade ago, the tools and techniques for such fiddling were confined to a handful of laboratories like those at leading research universities; today, do-it-yourself biology clubs have sprung up where part-timers share tips on how to build high-speed centrifuges, isolate genetic material, and the like

  • Vast cleanup of Plum Island land since 2000

    DHS plans to sell Plum Island and replace its bio-research facilities with a brand new BioLab in Manhattan, Kansas; documents show that since 2000 there have been extensive efforts to remove vast amounts of waste and contaminants — hundreds of tons of medical waste, contaminated soil, and other refuse — from the island

  • George Mason University opens $50 million biomedical lab to fight bioterrorism

    George Mason University has opened a $50 million biomedical research laboratory as part of the U.S. effort to fight bioterrorism; research will focus on the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases and on pathogens the government thinks could be used in a bioterrorism attack

  • Researchers develop an Ebola vaccine

    Researchers develop an experimental vaccine that cures the Ebola virus by targeting its genetic material; trouble is, the Ebola vaccine can only work if it is administered within thirty minutes, which is an impracticality among civilian populations; the vaccine is a viable possibility within a research facility, so it may be used to protect the researchers themselves

  • DHS's Fort Detrick biolab about to open

    The new DHS biolab at Fort Detrick, Maryland, is slowly coming to life; the eight-story building has three distinct sections: administrative offices near the front, biosafety level 2 and 3 labs, and then biosafety level 4 labs on the other side of a thick concrete wall; designing the BSL-4 labs as essentially their own building has several benefits; most importantly, a fire or other hazard in the other section of the building wouldn’t require the BSL-4 labs to be frantically evacuated

  • DHS in Manhattan, Kansas, to discuss the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility

    DHS visits the site of the site of the planned $725 million National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kansas, on the campus of the Kansas State University; DHS officials held a public meeting with Manhattan residents to discuss the new lab

  • Former colleague defends Bruce Ivins using back-of-the-envelope math

    A former colleague of Bruce Ivins, who, according to the FBI, was behind the 2001 anthrax attacks in the United States, says the FBI was wrong: it would have taken Ivins at least a year of dedicated work to grow the total amount of anthrax spores contained in the eight letters, and that could not have been done in secrecy; other scientists dispute this assertion