Gene therapy prevents botulism in mice
A gene therapy method tested in mice may eventually be able to replace the current form of treatment for toxin exposures that cause ailments such as botulism.
The discovery of vials of "variola," commonly known as smallpox, in a storage room at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, has raised new concerns that the virus could be used in a bioterrorism attack.
One of three manufacturing sites commissioned by the Department of Health and Human Services to quickly develop and produce flu vaccines in the case of a pandemic is expected to be fully operational by 2017, officials say.
Vaccines have basically worked the same way for decades. A pathogen antigen is isolated, used as the basis of a vaccine and administered to the patient. The Pentagon thinks there might be a better way of doing things, and it has tasked Pfizer with investigating its hunch.
While few question the necessity of the Defense Department's investments in protecting military personnel from biological threats, the scale and type of projects is a source of considerable controversy, as shown by the Pentagon's latest push into vaccine manufacturing.
While anthrax, smallpox and other "category A" bioterrorism threats dominate the collective public consciousness, a larger pool of lower-priority agents are also a danger. Q fever falls into this second tier, but the U.S. government is still sufficiently concerned to gather researchers to talk vaccine development.
In response to concerns about biodefense, the Department of Health and Human Services is helping GlaxoSmithKline and Texas A&M build a $91 million vaccine production plant.
The U.K. government has quietly downgraded the threat assessment for smallpox. The decision comes a decade after the previous administration began spending $120 million on smallpox vaccines in preparation for a possible terrorist attack.
For a disease that was eradicated in 1980, smallpox attracts a lot of time, talk and resources. As of May 8, 1980, the only known presence of the virus was in U.S. and Russian government labs. But consistent rumors of renegade stocks or re-engineered viruses have kept defense experts alert.
At long last, 2nd controversial look at bird flu virus finally published
Nearly 6 months ago, a U.S. government advisory board recommended publication restrictions for two separate papers that looked at how the lethal H5N1 bird flu virus might spread more easily in humans. Now, the more controversial of the two research efforts has been published, coming out a month after the other work finally saw print when officials reversed course about their concerns.