• Experts expect a surge in ransomware attacks this week – this time without a “kill switch”

    A second version of the disruptive WannaCry ransomware – a version which does not contain the “kill switch” used by a young security analyst to shut down many of last week’s cyberattacks – is set to be released by the same group of hackers. There are fears that Monday could see a surge in the number of computers taken over by the devastating WannaCry ransomware hack. Rob Wainwright, head of the European Union police agency, Europol, warned anyone who thought the problem was going away was mistaken. “At the moment, we are in the face of an escalating threat. The numbers are going up, I am worried about how the numbers will continue to grow when people go to work and turn (on) their machines on Monday morning,” he said.

  • Pocket-size biological solution to radioactive threats

    Yaky Yanay, co-CEO of Pluristem Therapeutics, last week surprised the participants The Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York by saying that a small glass vial he pulled out of his pocket offered a solution to Iran’s nuclear threats. “I have the solution in my pocket.” The company has developed an anti-radiation therapy that can be stockpiled for emergencies. The therapy harnesses the power of the human placenta to contain the cascading effect of radiation exposure in the body and allow for the natural healing of cells.

  • Researchers identify security concerns in 1 in 3 FDA-approved drugs

    Nearly one out of every three drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have a new safety issue detected in the years after approval, says a new study. While most of the safety concerns are not serious enough to require withdrawal of a drug from the market, the finding highlights the need for ongoing surveillance of new drugs in the post-market period, said the researchers.

  • U.K. hospitals, clinics hit by large-scale ransomware cyberattack

    The NHS has confirmed that hospitals across England have been hit by a large-scale cyberattack. The attack has locked staff out of their computers and forced emergency patients to be diverted to hospitals not hit by the attack. The IT systems of NHS facilities across England have been hit simultaneously – and the screens of computers connected to the networks under attack showed a pop-up message demanding a ransom in exchange for allowing staff access to the PCs.

  • Doctors should be paid by salary, not fee-for-service: Behavioral economists

    While most conflict of interest research and debate in medicine focuses on physicians interacting with pharmaceutical and device companies, one important source of conflicts is largely ignored in the medical literature on conflicts of interest: how doctors are paid. A new study outlines the problems associated with the fee-for-service arrangements that most doctors currently operate under. Such compensation schemes, the authors argue, create incentives for physicians to order more, and different, services than are best for patients.

  • New computer model assesses risk of a Zika epidemic in real-time

    New research describes a new model for assessing real-time risk of a Zika virus epidemic in the United States. The computer simulation, based on data from Texas including population dynamics, historical infection rates, socioeconomics, and mosquito density, is designed to help policymakers gauge the underlying epidemic threat as cases first appear in U.S. cities.

  • Cost of Zika outbreak in U.S. could be high

    Even a relatively mild Zika outbreak in the United States could cost more than $183 million in medical costs and productivity losses, a computational analysis suggests. A more severe outbreak could result in $1.2 billion or more in medical costs and productivity losses. “This is a threat that has not gone away. Zika is still spreading silently and we are just now approaching mosquito season in the United States, which has the potential of significantly increasing the spread,” says one researcher.

  • New tools to combat superbugs

    Antibiotic resistance is a growing global health threat. So much so that a 2014 study commissioned by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom predicted that, if the problem is left unchecked, in less than 35 years more people will die from antibiotic resistant superbugs than from cancer. It is critical that researchers develop new antibiotics informed by knowledge of how superbugs are resistant to this medication.

  • AgTech innovator raises $7.5 million to help develop precision agriculture

    Today, the Ag industry loses more than $300 billion each year due to crop diseases and pests. Pests and diseases can destroy crops and devastate farmers’ agricultural yield, but chemical overuse comes with its own set of challenges, including pesticide-resistant disease strains. Meanwhile, rising temperatures and increasing levels of carbon dioxide create more challenges for farmers as crop pests and disease thrive in hot, CO2-rich environments. Taranis, a precision agriculture intelligence platform, announced it has closed a $7.5 million Series A round of financing. Taranis says it aims to lead the digital farming revolution by giving farmers around the globe the ability to predict and prevent detrimental threats to their crops—and bottom line.

  • Europe’s economy vulnerable to global water scarcity, drought

    A new study of the impacts that increasing water scarcity and drought may have on the European Union’s (EU) economy finds that around 38 percent of the EU’s water demand lies outside its borders because many of the goods consumed by its citizens or used by its businesses are produced abroad. “The highest risk that the European meat and dairy sector will face due to climate change and weather extremes lies outside its borders. This is because it is highly dependent on soybean imports from locations that are vulnerable to water scarcity and drought,” says one expert.

  • Killing drug-resistant bacteria dead with bioinspired agent

    Microbial resistance to antibiotics and biocides is increasing, and our ability to effectively treat bacterial infections and contamination is under threat. It is important that scientists develop new antibiotic drugs, but we also need new strategies to deal with bacterial contamination that are not reliant on antibiotics. Researchers have developed a bioinspired antimicrobial treatment that can rapidly kill drug-resistant bacteria. The treatment consists of iodo-thiocyanate complexes, which are inspired by enzymes and reactive molecules produced by our immune system.

  • Sanitizers made of paper kill bacteria dead

    Imagine wearing clothes with layers of paper that protect you from dangerous bacteria. Now you can: Researchers have invented an inexpensive, effective way to kill bacteria and sanitize surfaces with devices made of paper. The motivation for the invention was to create personal protective equipment that might contain the spread of infectious diseases, such as the devastating 2014 outbreak of Ebola in West Africa.

  • Urban legend: WWI-era “viable” anthrax strain was, in fact, much younger standard laboratory strain

    A team of international researchers has found that a strain of anthrax-causing bacterium thought to have been viable eighty years after a thwarted First World War espionage attack, was, in reality, a much younger standard laboratory strain. The team speculates that the mix-up was due to commonplace laboratory contamination. In 1917, German spy Baron Otto von Rosen was caught in Norway possessing lumps of sugar embedded with glass capillaries filled with a liquid holding spores of Bacillus anthracis, the bacterium that causes anthrax. He was suspected of plotting to feed the sugar lumps, which contained the oldest known isolates of B. anthracis, to the reindeer that pulled transports of munitions and foods across the frozen Arctic tundra for the Allied forces.

  • Differentiating viral and bacterial infections

    MeMed, an Israeli company specializing in molecular immunology, informatics, clinical infectious diseases and in vitro diagnostics, last week announced it has been awarded a $9.2 million contract by DoD’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to fund the completion of MeMed’s point-of-care platform for distinguishing bacterial from viral infections.

  • International anthrax conference will explore latest scientific research findings

    Scientists and researchers from all over the world who work on Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of anthrax, and B. cereus and B. thuringiensis, two closely related bacillus species, will be heading to Victoria, British Columbia, in October for the international conference known as “Bacillus ACT.” The bi-annual conference, set for 1-5 October, will allow members of the scientific community to present their work and meet more than 200 global peers.