Experts ‘scan horizon’ to help prepare governments for next major biosecurity threat

EurekAlert  February 3, 2021 A group of 41 academics and figures from industry and government from across the globe submitted 450 questions which were then debated, voted on and ranked to define the 80 most urgent key questions facing the UK government when it comes to biological security. They were subdivided into six categories: bioengineering; communication and behaviour; disease threats (including pandemics); governance and policy; invasive alien species; and securing biological materials and securing against misuse. The questions offer a research agenda for biological security in the UK that can assist the targeting of research resources and inform the implementation […]

Explosion Confirmed at Russian Lab Storing Smallpox, Ebola

Global Biodefense  September 21, 2019 One worker was hospitalized after a gas explosion on Sep. 16 caused a fire to break out at the Russian biological research facility in the Siberian city of Koltsovo. According to news coverage and the World Health Organization, the explosion did not occur near any storage areas of smallpox or other virus stockpiles; they remain intact and secure. The State Research Centre on Virology and Biotechnology, known as Vector, is the only center in the world other than the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved and known to have live samples of the […]

Darknet Biological and Chemical Terrorism Activities: Guide for Law Enforcement

Global Biodefense  July 26, 2019 With the increasing use of the Darknet for criminal activities, the danger of acquiring, transferring, or smuggling biological or chemical material, weapons and chem/bio terrorism-related information while remaining undetected becomes ever more pressing. The ‘INTERPOL Operational Manual on Investigating Biological and Chemical Terrorism on the Darknet’ was developed by a team of experts within the CBRNE and cyber communities. Officers working in the fields of intelligence, counter-terrorism investigation and cybercrime are able to use this manual as a reference document that outlines the basic concepts, best international practices, as well as techniques and procedures useful […]

Developing biosecurity tool to detect genetically engineered organisms in the wild

Science Daily  May 21, 2019 A team of researchers in the US (Raytheon, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Princeton University, UC San Francisco, industry) is working on FELIX (Finding Engineering-Linked Indicators) sponsored by IARPA. The program aims to develop a suite of tools for the agnostic detection of engineered biological organisms, ranging from viruses, bacteria, insects, animals and plants that are either purposefully or accidentally developed and/or released with the potential to cause harm. Ideally, the tools will expand the quality and amount of information available to distinguish engineered organisms from natural organisms, i.e., natural variation from intentional […]

Chilling New Research Shows How Dire a Smallpox Bioterror Attack Could Actually Get

Science Alert  February 21, 2019 To investigate what this kind of hypothetical threat might look, an international team of researchers (Australia, Fiji, USA- USINDOPACOM, Emory University, New Zealand, UK, Western Samoa, Tonga, industry) recently led a complex international simulation of such an attack, called Exercise Mataika to simulate a worst-case, large scale bioterrorist attack. The aim was to determine the duration and magnitude of the epidemic under different scenarios and scenarios where the current stockpile of vaccine is adequate. In a worst-case scenario, at the peak of the epidemic worldwide, it showed that only 50 percent of smallpox cases are […]

Are Countries Prepared for the Increasing Threat of Engineered Bioweapons?

Harvard Business Review  June 18, 2018 The low cost and do-it-yourself accessibility of genomic technologies makes it possible for weapons to be deployed by almost any aggressor. If a highly contagious agent were released in a major city, it could spread far and wide and kill thousands before it is even clear what is happening and we would likely have a window of only several weeks to prevent it from causing a global catastrophe. Responding effectively to such threats will require a paradigm shift towards approaches that are faster and more agile and decentralized approaches underpinned by new technologies are […]