Gene Editors Could Find New Use as Rapid Detectors of Pathogenic Threats

DARPA News  November 15, 2019 The overarching goal of Detect It with Gene Editing Technologies (DIGET) is to provide comprehensive, specific, and trusted information about health threats to medical decision-makers within minutes, even in far-flung regions of the globe, to prevent the spread of disease, enable timely deployment of countermeasures, and improve the standard of care after diagnosis. The DIGET vision incorporates two devices: a handheld, disposable point-of-need device that screens samples for at least 10 pathogens or host biomarkers at once, combined with a massively multiplexed detection platform capable of screening clinical and environmental samples for more than 1,000 […]

The Nation Faces Long-Standing Challenges Related to Defending Against Biological Threats

GAO  June 26, 2019 GAO reviewed biodefense reports, relevant presidential directives, laws, regulations, policies, strategic plans; surveyed states; and interviewed federal, state, and industry officials, among others. GAO’s past work has identified a number of challenges related to the nation’s ability to detect and respond to biological events that transcend what any one federal department or agency can address on its own. In September 2018, the White House issued the National Biodefense Strategy and associated plans, which could help to address some of the ongoing challenges GAO has previously identified. However, because implementation of the strategy is in early stages, […]

Machines whisper our secrets

UC Riverside News  February 22, 2019 Any active machine emits a trace of some form: physical residue, electromagnetic radiation, acoustic noise, etc. A team of researchers in the US (UC Irvine, UC Riverside) set microphones similar to those in a smartphone in several spots near a DNA synthesizer. After filtering out background noise and running several adjustments to the recorded sound, the researchers found the differences were too subtle for humans to notice. But through a careful feature engineering and bespoke machine-learning algorithm they were able to pinpoint those differences. The researchers could easily distinguish each time the machine produced […]

Why We Need a Universal Flu Vaccine

Forbes  March 21, 2018 The virus’s continual evolution is why we keep crafting new cocktails for it. If it evolves aggressively enough, we’re almost certain to have another pandemic. According to experts the pandemic clock is ticking. Researchers are tracking one strain in China right now. It has a 40% fatality rate. The World Bank estimates that a pandemic would cost 4.8% of GDP today, or about $3 trillion. Medicine shortages and travel interruptions for medical professionals would lead to a slow recovery period. This is an all-hands-on-deck time. Not just for flu experts but for people in disciplines far […]

Synthesis of Horsepox Virus: Implications for Biosecurity and Recommendations for Preventing the Reemergence of Smallpox

Health Security  Sept/Oct 2017 According to the researchers at George Mason University, it is now incumbent upon the public health and biodefense communities to take further steps to prepare for and defend against an outbreak of this dreaded disease. In addition, considering the potential for a synthesized smallpox virus to be more virulent or resistant to medical countermeasures than naturally occurring strains, research and development is needed to develop capabilities to detect genetic modifications in pox viruses, microbial forensic techniques applicable to synthetic viruses, and platforms… read more.