• Preventing a “post-antibiotic era”

    A landmark report by the World Health Organization in 2014 observed that antibiotic resistance — long thought to be a health threat of the future — had finally become a serious threat to public health around the world. A top WHO official called for an immediate and aggressive response to prevent what he called a “post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill.”

  • Acting fast: Two months to stop pandemic X from taking hold

    Over the past several years, DARPA-funded researchers have pioneered RNA vaccine technology, a medical countermeasure against infectious diseases that uses coded genetic constructs to stimulate production of viral proteins in the body, which in turn can trigger a protective antibody response. As a follow-on effort, DARPA funded research into genetic constructs that can directly stimulate production of antibodies in the body.

  • Disease “superspreaders” were the driving cause of 2014 Ebola epidemic

    A new study about the overwhelming importance of “superspreaders” in some infectious disease epidemics has shown that in the catastrophic 2014-15 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, about 3 percent of the people infected were ultimately responsible for infecting 61 percent of all cases. The issue of superspreaders is so significant, scientists say, that it’s important to put a better face on just who these people are. It might then be possible to better reach them with public health measures designed to control the spread of infectious disease during epidemics.

  • Genetic tool improves arsenic studies

    Arsenic-contaminated drinking water impacts millions of people worldwide. Groundwater contamination is primarily caused by microbes that convert one form of arsenic into another form that can infiltrate groundwater. Researchers developed a genetic tool that makes it easier to identify which microbial species have the arsenic-converting genes.

  • How a travel ban could worsen doctor shortages in US hospitals and threaten primary care

    While the world waits for a final decision on President Trump’s travel ban, potentially from the Supreme Court, it’s critical to look at the potential ramifications of the ban. As physicians involved with educating and training the next generation of doctors, we see dire consequences for health care delivery in our country if the travel ban is reinstated. President Trump’s immigration ban has the potential for immediate ramifications for the hospital and health care system workforce in the U.S. Long term, decreases in the number of international medical graduates in training will result in fewer primary care physicians and general surgeons, just as the country is likely to need more. This immigration policy can have significant adverse impacts on health care delivery and the health of Americans. These consequences should be critically considered in related immigration and travel ban policy decisions moving forward.

  • U.K. nuclear safety regulations place too low a value on human life

    New research has shown that the benchmark used by the U.K. Office for Nuclear Regulation for judging how much should be spent on nuclear safety has no basis in evidence and places insufficient value on human life. The review suggests it may need to be ten times higher — between £16 million and £22 million per life saved.

  • World leaders urged to take action to avert existential global risks

    World leaders must do more to limit risk of global catastrophes, according to a report by Oxford academics. He academic define global catastrophe as a risk “where an adverse outcome would either annihilate Earth-originating intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtail its potential.” Three of the most pressing possible existential risks for humanity are pandemics, extreme climate change, and nuclear war.

  • Step closer to developing major new drug in fight against antimicrobial resistance

    Scientists have for the first time determined the molecular structure of a new antibiotic which could hold the key to tackling drug resistant bacteria. This development is an important next step in understanding how different derivatives of teixobactin function, and which building blocks are needed for it to successfully destroy drug resistant bacteria.

  • ISIS followers hack U.K. National Health Service

    ISIS-linked hackers have attacked and defaced several NHS (U.K. National Health Service) websites in a series of cyberattacks. The hackers, going by the name of Tunisian Fallaga Team, targeted six websites three weeks ago, replacing legitimate web pages with graphic photos of the war in Syria. The attacks said they were retaliating for the West’s interference in the Middle East.

  • Texas agriculture experts: Mexico may retaliate if U.S. imposes tariffs

    Texas agricultural experts say President Trump’s threatened tariff on Mexican goods could lead to retaliation that would hurt Texas farmers and ranchers — as well as consumers. The idea of a tariff on Mexican imports or a radical change to the North American Free Trade Agreement worries many Texas agriculture industry leaders, who say it is in the state’s best interest to continue fostering a positive trade relationship with Mexico rather than imposing tariffs on their imports.

  • Low-cost imaging system detects natural gas leaks in real time

    Researchers have developed an infrared imaging system that could one day offer low-cost, real-time detection of methane gas leaks in pipelines and at oil and gas facilities. Leaks of methane, the primary component of natural gas, can be costly and dangerous while also contributing to climate change as a greenhouse gas. Infrared device enables reliable monitoring under a range of environmental conditions.

  • Dual-use sciene, technological innovation

    Scientific research can change our lives for the better, but it also presents risks – either through deliberate misuse or accident. Think about studying deadly pathogens; that’s how we can learn how to successfully ward them off, but it can be a safety issue too, as when CDC workers were exposed to anthrax in 2014 after an incomplete laboratory procedure left spores of the bacterium alive. Making decisions about the security implications of science and technology can be complicated. That’s why scientists and policymakers need clarity on the dual-use distinction to help consider our options.

  • Malaria superbugs pose threat to global malaria control

    A lineage of multidrug resistant P. falciparum malaria superbugs has widely spread and is now established in parts of Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, causing high treatment failure rates for the main falciparum malaria medicines, artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs). The emergence and spread of artemisinin drug resistant P falciparum lineage represents a serious threat to global malaria control and eradication efforts.

  • Global partnership to prevent epidemics with new vaccines launched

    A global coalition to create new vaccines for emerging infectious diseases, designed to help give the world an insurance policy against epidemics, launches today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

    With an initial investment of $460 million from the governments of Germany, Japan, and Norway, plus the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, CEPI - the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations will seek to outsmart epidemics by developing safe and effective vaccines against known infectious disease threats that could be deployed rapidly to contain outbreaks, before they become global health emergencies.

  • Millions of tons of food could be saved with better logistics

    Each year, nearly a quarter of a million tons of food is discarded in industry and retail in Sweden – unnecessarily. Researchers want to do something about it, giving companies in the food supply chain specific tools that can reduce both food waste and the environmental impact of food transport.