Who is in charge of carrying out our nation’s biodefense policy? This question was raised repeatedly in Wednesday’s hearing of the Senate Labor-Health and Human Services subcommittee. The hearing focused on bioterrorism, biosecurity, and medical countermeasures in contrast to last week’s senate hearing on terrorism during which the topic was barely mentioned. The hearing was [...]
An anthrax outbreak in Bangladesh has infected more than 500 individuals since August 18th. The infections were acquired from eating or handling contaminated cattle. In one instance, a man purchased a cow which became ill a few days later. He brought the cow to a veterinarian where it was vaccinated against anthrax. This would have [...]
Another RNAi based treatment for Ebola has been developed. Researchers at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) found that >60% of monkeys given a lethal dose of Zaire Ebola virus survived after treatment with AVI-6002, a targeted, positively charged, anti-sense phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomers (PMO) developed by AVI BioPharma . Another targeted [...]
BARDA, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), recently awarded four contracts for the research and development of innovative platform technologies in medical countermeasure development.
Contracts were awarded to the following organizations to continue development: the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) in Seattle, VaxDesign Corp. in Orlando and Pfenex Inc. in San Diego. A collective total of $24.6 million is allotted for initial phases and up to $53.6 million over three years.
In late June, 30 hippopotamuses died of anthrax in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda, a popular safari location. These hippopotamuses likely contracted Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of anthrax, from spores that had been lying dormant in the lake shore soil for 6 years, originating from an anthrax outbreak in 2004 which killed approximately 300 [...]
Instead of strictly offensive measures (e.g. antivirals, antibiotics, and siRNA treatments), scientists are developing ways to improve our own natural defense against pathogens, our immune system. This can be done both by enhancing immune function and preventing immune overreactions. Enhancing the Immune System A study released last month found a way to protect mice from [...]
During 1940s, penicillin, the first commercially available antibiotic, was hailed as a “wonder drug.” Penicillin helped make WWII the first American war where infection was not the major cause of death. But by the 1950s, antibiotic resistance became widespread. Scientists were engaged in a veritable arms race, constantly modifying and developing new classes of antibiotics [...]