• U.K. funds £12 million project for quick detection of farm-based disease

    A new device will be able to detect a variety of different infections, making it useful for outbreaks of human diseases, as well as animal ones; by providing a fast verdict on whether an area such as a farm is subject to an outbreak and needs to be quarantined, it could help stop the spread of the disease

  • Passenger causing Thursday airport shutdown was at center of 2003 plague scare

    A passenger on a flight back from Saudi Arabia appeared to be carrying a suspicious canister — and TSA security checkers became even more alarmed when they realized that the passenger was the scientist who sparked a bioterrorism scare after he reported missing vials of plague samples in 2003; between 100 and 200 passengers were evacuated from four of the airport’s six concourses; airport roadways and a hotel near the airport’s international terminal were closed down

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  • 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

  • Seafood stewardship questionable: experts

    The world’s most established fisheries certifier — the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) — is failing on its promises as rapidly as it gains prominence, according the world’s leading fisheries experts; “The MSC is supposed to be a solution, but a lot of what they do has turned against biology in favor of bureaucracy,” says one expert

  • Pentagon shifts $1 billion from WMD-defense efforts to vaccine development

    The Obama administration has shifted more than $1 billion out of its nuclear, biological, and chemical defense programs to underwrite a new White House priority on vaccine development and production to combat disease pandemics; Defense Department projects under the budget-cutting ax include the development and acquisition of biological and chemical detection systems; gear to decontaminate skin and equipment after exposure; systems to coordinate military operations in a chem-bio environment; and protective clothing for military personnel entering toxic areas, the document indicates

  • Man addicted to video games successfully challenges end-user agreement

    A Hawaii man who sued a company over his crippling addiction to the computer game Lineage II — he claimed that his compulsive urge to play the game caused him to sink more than 20,000 hours into it — has managed to defeat the end-user agreement that said he had no right to bring the case to begin with; the decision may have lasting significance in the software license wars

  • New method to protect foods from anthrax contamination

    An antibacterial enzyme found in human tears and other body fluids could be applied to certain foods for protection against intentional contamination with anthrax

  • 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

  • "Smart Potty": medical check ups, automatic seat-lowering

    Japanese “intelligent” toilets offer users an array of functions — heated seats, water jets with pressure and temperature controls, hot-air bottom dryers, perfume bursts, ambient background music, and noise-masking audio effects for the easily embarrassed; the latest model also offers instant health check-up every time a user answers the call of nature

  • Thwarting bioterrorism: Castor bean's genome sequenced

    The sequencing of the castor bean genome shows that it has an estimated 31,237 genes. The research team focused on the genes in the castor bean that can be used to create biofuel and ricin

  • In-Q-Tel-like venture fund would help fight bioterrorism, pandemics

    A report from Health and Human Services (HHS) officials urged development of a $200 million fund that would invest in new ways to thwart potential public health threats from viruses or biological agents; a separate panel of scientists and technology industry executives, created by President Barack Obama, said the United States needs to spend $1 billion annually to expand and modernize vaccine production; The panel also urged the United States to conduct research into the use of chemical additives that could increase the available number of doses in future pandemics

  • U.S. to bolster defense against infectious threats

    The Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise Review, released yesterday at a press conference by HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius, concludes that despite the massive investments in biodefense after 9/11 and the 2001 anthrax attacks, the United States is still way too slow when it comes to responding to emerging health threats

  • Medicago awarded $21 million for rapid vaccine development

    DARPA is putting money in a burgeoning Accelerated Manufacture of Pharmaceuticals, or AMP, program, which aims to revolutionize current, egg-based vaccine production models, and yield vaccines within three months of “emerging and novel biological threats”

  • 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

  • Veterinary students train to help in agro-terrorism situations

    Because of the number of feedlots in Kansas, the state could be a prime target for agro-terrorism; Kansas State University veterinary medicine students take part in two different U.S. Department of Agriculture preparedness programs: the foreign animal disease practitioner’s training course and agriculture emergency response training; the programs train veterinarians to aid in relief efforts and protect the public in hazardous situations