Public health

  • New weapon in the war on superbugs

    In the arms race between bacteria and modern medicine, bacteria have gained an edge. In recent decades, bacterial resistance to antibiotics has developed faster than the production of new antibiotics, making bacterial infections increasingly difficult to treat. Scientists worry that a particularly virulent and deadly “superbug” could one day join the ranks of existing untreatable bacteria, causing a public health catastrophe comparable with the Black Death.

  • 1950s pandemic flu virus still a health threat today, particularly to those under 50

    Scientists have evidence that descendants of the H2N2 avian influenza A virus that killed millions worldwide in the 1950s still pose a threat to human health, particularly to those under 50. The study included twenty-two H2N2 avian viruses collected from domestic poultry and wild aquatic birds between 1961 and 2008, making it the most comprehensive analysis yet of avian H2N2 viruses.

  • University of Florida Clinical Toxicology Online Graduate Course. Chemical Weapons of Mass Destruction. Arm yourself with knowledge.
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  • Seeds from Moringa oleifera trees better then chemicals for purifying water

    Clean water is essential for good health. In many countries it is still difficult to obtain clean water. Even developed countries can benefit from a process that treats waste water without addition of further synthetic chemicals. Seeds from Moringa oleifera trees can be used to purify water. Researchers have discovered that seed material can offer a more efficient purification process than conventional synthetic materials in use today.

  • Stolen nuclear material found intact in Mexico

    Mexican police yesterday said they have found a truck, a white 2007 Volkswagen cargo vehicle, which was stolen Monday by thieves who apparently were not aware that it was carrying toxic radioactive medical material from a hospital to a disposal site. The cobalt-60 the truck was carrying could be used to build a “dirty bomb.” The IAEA said that more than 100 incidents of thefts and other unauthorized activities involving nuclear and radioactive material are reported to the agency annually.

  • Yasser Arafat was not poisoned: French investigators

    French scientific and medical experts rule out possibility that Palestinian leader was poisoned by radioactive polonium-210. A Russian medical team examining tissue samples taken from Arafat’s body reached the same conclusion three months ago. The conclusions of a Swiss medical team were more ambiguous. Leaders of the Palestinian Authority began accusing Israel of poisoning Arafat even before he died, as his health was rapidly declining. Israel has consistently denied the accusation, describing it as “unreasonable and unsupported by facts.”

  • Arafat may have been poisoned, but what is polonium?

    A Swiss forensic report of the exhumed remains of ex-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat last month suggested polonium poisoning may have been the cause of death – but what is polonium, and why is it so deadly? Polonium is a highly radioactive heavy metal. It is arguably the most lethal known material. Although it has some minor industrial uses it is best known for links with possible assassinations. It is also used to produce neutrons in the core of nuclear weapons. Polonium is element 84 in the periodic table, and all of its isotopes are radioactive. Their half-lives vary between a few millionths of a second to 103 years.

  • New malaria vaccine offers a new mode of protection

    Malaria kills more than 660,000 people each year, most of whom are children in Africa. A novel malaria vaccine developed at Oxford University has shown promising results in the first clinical trial to test whether it can protect people against the mosquito-borne disease.

  • Helping farmers cope with climate change is big business

    Monsanto estimates there is a $20 billion market for employing massive data analysis to provide weather forecasting and crop-growing advice tailored to individual plots of land. With a $300 billion agriculture industry in the United States exposed to climate change, predicting the effects of warming temperature is critical to the industry. Monsanto has recently acquired – for $1 billion — the Climate Corporation, a Silicon Valley company which uses data analysis and algorithms to redefine how farmers grow and harvest crops. The company provides farmers with insights which predict weather pattern and the changing effects on crops.

  • Rapid detection of superbugs

    Scientists developed an array that could test for 116 antibiotic resistant genes from one class of bacteria, and 90 resistant genes from the other class of bacteria. This new lab test detects antibiotic resistance genes quickly, helping doctors choose the right drugs to knock out superbugs.

  • Stopping malaria transmission

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    Malaria is preventable and treatable. Yet, according to the World Health Organization, an estimated 219 million malaria cases occurred globally in 2010. The disease killed about 660 000 people, most of them children under five years of age, at the same time that increasing drug resistance might soon limit treatment options. Researchers say that to eradicate this disease, there is a need to look beyond treatment, and seek drugs that block transmission between humans and mosquitoes.

  • Detecting radioactive material in nuclear waste water

    As the Fukushima crisis continues to remind the world of the potential dangers of nuclear disposal and unforeseen accidents, scientists are reporting progress toward a new way to detect the radioactive materials uranium and plutonium in waste water.

  • Using gaming to spark kids' STEM interest, improve physical fitness

    A team of Purdue University technology researchers will use a $1.2 million National Science Foundation grant to tackle two national challenges: increasing children’s interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM); and decreasing childhood obesity. The three-year project parlays kids’ innate interest in video games and solving big problems to inspire them to gain the STEM skills needed to create technology-based fitness games. The project will also encourage students to create exergames that require players to get up and move.

  • New drone to monitor radiation following nuclear disasters

    Researchers have unveiled a large semi-autonomous drone called the ARM system which could be used to provide visual and thermal monitoring of radiation after a release of nuclear material. The system was developed in response to requirements for radiation monitoring in event of the release of radioactive materials.

  • Malaria parasite circumvents natural defense

    Researchers have discovered recent genetic mutations in a parasite that causes over 100 million cases of malaria annually — changes that may render tens of millions of Africans who had been considered resistant, susceptible to infection. The 3-gene mutations appear to be the parasite’s invasion mechanisms. The changes occur in the Plasmodium vivax genome, and the Malaria Atlas Project estimates 2.5 billion people worldwide are at risk for P. vivax malaria.

  • Lying in wait: Anthrax toxin may lurk for days in cells as a lingering threat

    An anthrax infection can be fatal even when the infectious agent is no longer detected. The bacterium responsible for anthrax develops a strategy reminiscent of the Trojan horse tale. Its pathogenic factor is able to penetrate inside a cell in such a way that it becomes completely invisible to both the immune system and medical analysis. Furthermore, it manages to exit the cell several days later, and then it continues to poison other cells.