• 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

  • Synthetic DNA makers alerted to bioterrorism threats

    Scientists have been engineering genetic sequences for decades and commercial gene sequencing has been around for years — but this year, researchers for the first time were able to design and produce cells that do not exist in nature without using pre-existing biological matter — marking the latest evolution in the rapidly advancing field of synthetic biology; the developments could pave the way for advancements in medicine, energy, and agriculture, but also could put sensitive materials in the wrong hands; it will soon be possible to recreate bacterial pathogens like smallpox — and even enhance these pathogens, making them more potent

  • BioWatch system faces technical, operational challenges

    In 2003 U.S. authorities set up a network of air samplers in major cities designed quickly to detect biological agents released in a terrorist attacks; new report says that the system, known as BioWatch, faces “serious technical and operational challenges”

  • DoD awards contract for pathogen detection

    IntegenX wins a $15 million contract to develop a pathogen detection and identification platform; the company will use a technology developed under a previous DoD contract to purify DNA from pathogen targets contained in complex matrices and present the purified material to an IntegenX library construction module

  • Vaccine work offers protection against weaponized plague bacteria

    Plague has been used as a weapon since the Middle Ages, when armies would hurl plague-infested bodies over castle walls; more recently, the United States, Japan, and the former Soviet Union have all studied the use of Y. pestis as a biological warfare agent; new research on the immune system’s response to plague could improve efforts to vaccinate the public against the world’s oldest form of biological warfare

  • New $186.6 million contract shows anthrax threat real

    In an indication that the threat of an anthrax outbreak as a result of bioterrorism remains a major priority for the Obama administration, Maryland-based Emergent BioSolutions received a contract valued at up to $186.6 million from the Department of Health and Human Services to develop a recombinant protective antigen anthrax vaccine, which is likely to produce a more rapid response to anthrax infection than existing vaccines

  • Researchers develop next generation antibiotics to combat drug-resistant "superbugs"

    Each year 90,000 people in the United States die of drug-resistant “superbugs” — bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a deadly form of staph infection resistant to normal antibiotics; certain bacterial strains include enzymes which help the bacteria to inactivate antibiotics — and a team of researchers are working on turning this powerful mechanism against the bacteria itself

  • Docs: drug-resistant superbug is "time bomb" requiring global response

    Researchers warn that the spread of a drug-resistant bacterial gene could herald the end of antibiotics; the bleak prediction follows his research into a drug-resistant bacterial gene called NDM-1, or New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase 1, which was first identified in India; the bug was found attached to E.coli bacteria, but the enzyme can easily jump from one bacterium to another and experts fear it will start attaching itself to more dangerous diseases causing them to become resistant to antibiotics

  • 395 medicines and Vaccines in development to fight infectious diseases

    More than 9.5 million people worldwide die each year from infectious diseases; in the United States, two million drug-resistant infections are reported each year, causing great suffering and costing the health system up to $34 billion a year; America’s biopharmaceutical research companies this year have 395 new medicines and vaccines in the pipeline to fight infectious diseases. All 395 are in later stages of development, meaning in clinical trials or under Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review

  • Japan reports its first case of NDM-1 superbug

    Japan reported the first case of NDM-1 “superbug”” infection; the case follows a warning from the World Health Organization (WHO) last month calling on global health authorities to monitor the drug-resistant superbug that is believed to have spread from India

  • Nigeria faces nation-wide cholera threat

    Cholera, a water-borne disease, is highly contagious yet easily preventable with clean water and sanitation; in Nigeria, though, the government pays little attention to public health, medical care is poor; in many places access to toilets is rare and open-air sewers can easily flood; heavy seasonal rains and inadequate infrastructure have created ideal conditions for the disease outbreak

  • Genomic test developed to prevent bioterrorism

    Researchers are working on develop a genomic test that can quickly determine whether a disease outbreak is caused by a natural pathogen or one that was grown in a lab by terrorists; the test is designed to provide homeland security and public health officials with the tools they need quickly to determine how to respond to an outbreak

  • Texas A&M bioterrorism research may yield rabies cure

    Rabies infection is an unusual event in the United States, but it is a problem that kills more than 50,000 people around the world every year; the U.S. Department of Defense is funding research at Texas A&M on counter-measures to bioterrorism — but one of the most immediate outcomes of A&M’s research could be a cure for rabies

  • NDM-1 may herald the end of antibiotic era

    Researchers warn that the spread of a drug-resistant bacterial gene could herald the end of antibiotics; the bleak prediction follows his research into a drug-resistant bacterial gene called NDM-1, or New Delhi metallo-β-lactamase 1, which was first identified in India; researchers identified 143 cases of NDM-1 across India and Pakistan, but 37 — a surprisingly high figure — in the United Kingdom

  • Superbug found in British patients returning from treatment in Asia

    An antibiotic-resistant superbug has been found in British patients traveling to Asia for cosmetic surgery, cancer treatment, and transplants and returning to Britain for further care; the bug was found attached to E.coli bacteria, but the enzyme can easily jump from one bacterium to another and experts fear it will start attaching itself to more dangerous diseases causing them to become resistant to antibiotics; in Many Asian countries health standards in many Asian countries are poor and regulations are weak, and antibiotics are available to buy without prescription; this is thought to have encouraged resistance to develop as many infections are exposed to the drugs without being properly killed