• Mapping the spread of drug-resistant influenza

    The movie “Contagion” is not based on real events, but it is not science fiction, either: certain strains of influenza are becoming resistant to common treatments; a team of researchers map out how this phenomenon is happening globally

  • Biological weapons: U.S. must not repeat the failure of imagination

    Joel McCleary, a biological weapons expert, is the chairman and co-founder of Q Global and the founder of PharmAthene; he argues that the U.S. government has not done enough to protect the nation against a biological attack, warns of the need for presidential leadership, and underscores the dangers of biological weapons

  • Scientists "domesticate" -- and disarm -- malaria parasite

    Malaria is one of the Earth’s most notorious scourges, accounting for more than 250 million new cases — and one million deaths — each year, researchers have developed a novel technique to “tame” the malaria parasite by forcing it to depend on an external supply of a vital chemical; this could help to speed up drug development and provide the basis for the first effective vaccine against malaria

  • Anthrax forensics help ID source of Haitian cholera outbreak

    Researchers have discovered the source of the deadly cholera outbreak in Haiti that killed more than 6,000 people and sickened 300,000; the study determined that Nepalese peacekeepers brought cholera to Haiti, when they came to assist the country’s rebuilding efforts following the massive earthquake in January 2010

  • How did the deadly plague bacterium develop?

    In a relatively short time — in evolutionary terms — a bacterium that causes mild stomach irritation evolved into a deadly pathogen responsible for the most devastating pandemics in human history; how did the mild-mannered Yersinia pseudotuberculosis become Yersinia pestis, more commonly known as the Plague? New study explains what happened — and sheds light on fighting deadly diseases

  • Experts anxious about appearance of a variant strain of Bird Flu

    Since 2003 H5N1 has killed or forced the culling of more than 400 million domestic poultry and caused an estimated $20 billion of economic damage across the globe before it was eliminated from most of the sixty-three countries infected at its peak in 2006; the UN health agency now calls for increased preparedness and surveillance against a re-emerging variant strain of H5N1

  • The malaria mosquito is disappearing – researchers wonder why

    The incidence of malaria in many African countries south of the Sahara is falling rapidly; a research group has discovered that the mosquito carrying the malaria parasite has practically disappeared from villages without organized mosquito control; there are several hypotheses about the cause of the decline, but without proper data researchers cannot say whether malaria is being eradicated or whether it is just resting up before returning with renewed vigor

  • Common bacterium stops mosquitoes from transmitting Dengue virus

    Strains of a bacterium commonly found in fruit flies can prevent the Aedes aegypti mosquito from transmitting the virus that causes dengue fever, researchers have found; the discovery could lead to a more effective way to control dengue worldwide

  • Overcoming dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria

    Scientists have successfully reengineered an important antibiotic to kill the deadliest antibiotic-resistant bacteria; the compound could one day be used clinically to treat patients with life-threatening and highly resistant bacterial infections

  • Coriander oil tackles food poisoning and drug-resistant infections

    Coriander oil has been shown to be toxic to a broad range of harmful bacteria; its use in foods and in clinical agents could prevent food-borne illnesses and even treat antibiotic-resistant infections, according to the authors of a study published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology

  • Source of Haitian cholera outbreak identified

    Employing technology that reads the entire DNA code, researchers have pinpointed the source of a cholera outbreak in Haiti that killed more than 6,000 people and sickened 300,000; the researchers also suggest how to prevent future outbreaks when international aid is rushed to disaster areas

  • How did H1N1 become an pandemic?

    The last century has seen two major pandemics caused by the H1N1 virus — the Spanish Flu in 1918 and 2009’s Swine Flu scare, which had thousands travelling with surgical masks and clamoring for vaccination; scientists, however, did not know what distinguished the Swine Flu from ordinary influenza in pigs or seasonal outbreaks in humans, giving it the power to travel extensively and infect large populations; until now

  • Software successfully predicted spread of West Nile virus in California

    A computer model of the spread of West Nile virus was able to predict areas where human cases would be concentrated, especially around Sacramento in 2005; the success of the model, say researchers, depended on its focus on biological factors and on a high volume of reports from members of the public

  • Medical silver bullet: New drug cures most viral infections

    Researchers at MIT’s Lincoln Lab have developed technology that may someday cure the common cold, influenza, and other ailments; the researchers tested their drug against fifteen viruses, and found it was effective against all of them — including rhinoviruses that cause the common cold, H1N1 influenza, a stomach virus, a polio virus, dengue fever, and several other types of hemorrhagic fever

  • Reversing metabolism to make biofuels at breakneck pace

    Engineers reverse E. coli metabolism for speedy production of fuels, chemicals; a Rice University’s team reversed one of the most efficient of all metabolic pathways — the beta oxidation cycle — to engineer bacteria that produce biofuel at a breakneck pace