• 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

  • Work begins on the new U.S. premier BioLab

    DHS has released $40 million to allow work to begin on the U.S. new National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, located on the campus of Kansas State University; the lab will replace the aging lab on Plum Island as the premier research center to combat the threat of naturally occurring animal diseases or agroterrorism; the Levl 4 BioLab will conduct research on human and animal disease to which there is yet no known cure

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • New smallpox vaccine delivered to U.S. national stockpile

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the last case of smallpox in the United States was in 1949, and the last naturally occurring case in the world was in Somalia in 1977; the virus still exists in laboratory stockpiles, however, and after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, “there is heightened concern that the variola virus might be used as an agent of bioterrorism,” the CDC says