Viruses and pathogens | Homeland Security Newswire

  • SuperbugsLow antibiotic levels in the environment may spur drug resistance

    A new study is providing new evidence that low concentrations of antibiotics in the environment could be contributing to the evolution of antibiotic resistance. The researchers report that even when bacterial communities in wastewater are exposed to small amounts of the antibiotic cefotaxime, selection pressure for clinically important antibiotic-resistant genes occurs. Moreover, they also found that the selection pressure for resistance may be just as strong as when exposed to high concentrations of the drug.

  • SuperbugsCreating “criminal database” of drug-resistant pathogens

    Using a big-data approach and a network of hospitals and clinical laboratories around the world, a new non-profit initiative aims to create a comprehensive “criminal database” of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains that can be recognized by their genetic fingerprint. The Antibiotic Resistance Monitoring, Analysis and Diagnostics Alliance (ARMADA) will create this global biobank of bacterial strains by collecting bacterial isolates from hospitals, doctor’s offices, clinical labs, and veterinary sources and then analyzing them to understand their resistance profiles, their genetic identity, and their epidemiological history.

  • SuperbugsNature’s remedies: Using viruses against drug-resistant bacteria

    With microbial resistance to antibiotics growing into a major global health crisis, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, in collaboration with national research institutions and private industry, are leveraging hard-won expertise to exploit a natural viral enemy of pathogenic bacteria, creating North America’s first Center for Innovative Phage Applications and Therapeutics (IPATH). The plan is to use viruses as new weapon against multidrug-resistant bacteria.

  • SuperbugsDeep-sea sponges may offer key to antibiotic drug resistance

    Infectious diseases remain a major threat to human health causing millions of deaths worldwide, especially in medically less-developed countries and regions. In 2016, there were an estimated 1.2 million tuberculous deaths, 1.03 million HIV/AIDS deaths, and 719,600 malaria deaths. This situation is significantly worsened by the prevalence of multi-drug resistance. Researchers may have a solution to this problem using sea sponges collected from the ocean depths.

  • BiosecurityFragile supply chain causing antibiotic shortages, resistance threat

    A white paper released yesterday argues that a fragile global supply chain that’s dependent on a small number of antibiotics manufacturers, along with a financially unstable economic model, are responsible for shortages of antibiotics on a global and national level. Because of these shortages, some patients in need of antibiotics are being treated with lower-quality medications that don’t cure their infections and increase the risk of resistance.

  • BiothreatsWinners announced in $300K biothreat prize competition

    DHS S&T the other day announced the grand prize winner of its $300,000 Hidden Signals Challenge. The prize competition called for the design of an early warning system to keep communities safe by using existing data sources to uncover emerging biothreats.

  • PandemicsLittle-known virus could become the next global pandemic

    A little-known virus discovered twenty years ago could become the next global pandemic. A recent outbreak of Nipah in South India has renewed interest in the virus, which has a mortality rate of up to 70 percent and has no vaccine or cure. “Emerging infections have resulted in the most devastating infectious diseases that humanity has ever faced. These include HIV, tuberculosis, measles and smallpox. History has taught us that emerging infections can be major threats,” says Stanford University epidemiologist and Nipah expert Stephen Luby.

  • BiosecurityGrowing concerns about DIY gene editing

    There is a growing concerns regarding the rising popularity of do-it-yourself (DIY) gene editing. From the horsepox de novo synthesis to public stunts at conventions where biohackers injected themselves with HIV treatment, it is becoming difficult to ignore why these actions are dangerous.

  • BiosecurityBiosecurity: Do synthetic biologists need a license to operate?

    By Kostas Vavitsas

    Advances in gene editing technology and the drop in costs make it possible for individuals to perform more sophisticated molecular biology experiments in private spaces. This hobby attracts a variety of people and has been hailed as a way to democratize genetic engineering. A few recent stunts raise concerns about what are the hazards of individuals with gene-editing capabilities.

  • EbolaWHO: Response to Congo Ebola outbreak so far working

    An Ebola outbreak has gripped parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. According to the latest figures from the World Health Organization there have been 45 reported cases, 14 of which have been confirmed as Ebola. Of these 45 cases, 25 have resulted in fatalities. Most concerning, the outbreak has spread from a rural precinct to the city of Mbandaka which has a population of 1.2 million and sits on the Congo river, a major thoroughfare.

  • SuperbugsA quarter of migrants to Europe infected with drug-resistant bacteria

    A new review of research on migrant populations in Europe has found that more than a quarter are infected or colonized with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, with evidence suggesting that the pathogens are being acquired along the migration route or in host countries. The findings come amid a recent wave of immigration that has brought more than two million migrants to Europe since 2015, an influx that’s been driven in part by conflicts and instability in the Middle East and Africa.

  • SuperbugSuperbugs: are we returning to an era where bacteria are a major killer without a cure?

    By Anthony McDonnell

    Every time bacteria come into contact with antibiotics there is the possibility that through a process of natural selection, they may evolve to evade the drugs, creating what is referred to as “superbugs.” These superbugs can often not be killed by antibiotics. In the early years of antibiotic development researchers were able to come up with enough new antibiotics to replace the ones that we had lost to resistance, but this is no longer the case.

  • SuperbugsLow-levels of antibiotics can produce high-levels of resistance

    A new study indicates that bacteria exposed to small concentrations of antibiotics over time can become highly resistant, a finding that provides an example of how low levels of antibiotics present in many environments may potentially contribute to antibiotic resistance.

  • SuperbugsA new class of antibiotics to fight drug resistance

    According to the World Health Organization, antibiotic resistant is one of the biggest threats to global health today and a significant contributor to longer hospital stays, higher medical costs and increased mortality. An international research team has reported the discovery of a new class of antibiotics.

  • SuperbugsCDC measures have limited spread of “nightmare” bacteria

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported yesterday (3 April) that public health laboratories identified more than 220 samples of “nightmare” bacteria containing unusual resistance genes in 2017, a finding that officials say illustrates the importance of the agency’s efforts to identify emerging drug-resistant pathogens quickly and contain them before they can spread.