Date: April 12, 2011
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: Sandia National Laboratories has designed a new video game that is intended to help the U.S.-Mexico border patrol make fast and effective decisions on a day-to-day basis.
The Border High Level Models game, which is targeted at Department of Homeland Security personnel and other agencies, simulates the daily activities encountered when patrolling the border, KOAT.com reports.
One focus of the simulation is to prepare the learner how to detect and handle a potentially dangerous situation involving bioterrorist weapons.
“We’re concerned about people trying to smuggle nuclear, chemical and biological weapons across the border,” Sandia Labs senior staff member Brian Hart said, according to KOAT.com.
The game, which cost roughly $800,000 to develop, features a vast and realistic environment. A total of 64-square miles of border terrain is displayed at a time by the game. The simulation includes topography specific to the region, like the seasonally dry river or creek bed known as arroyos.
According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, there were approximately 404,365 illegal alien apprehensions from Mexico recorded during the 2010 fiscal year, KOAT.com reports.
Sandia National Laboratories is a government-owned,contractor-operated facility that has been developing science-based technologies that support U.S. national security since 1949 (Bio Prep Watch, 2011).
Title: Every Bug, Every Gas, Right Now: Air Force Wants Instant WMD Detector
Date: August 3, 2011
Abstract: Spurred by the anthrax hysteria of 2001, the U.S. government has thrown billions of dollars into developing new equipment and technologies to detect chemical and biological warfare agents. Now the Air Force has a plan that, if it actually works, would render all those billions obsolete.
A new solicitation from the service describes the need for “nanoparticle-based sensors that can be deployed in biological environments for the real-time detection of agents of interest.” In other words, the Air Force wants an instant, in vivo detector for every single toxic chemical and nasty germ on the face of the earth — from smallpox to nerve agents.
The chemical detection part is only slightly less wild than the rest of the proposal. Currently, the military has a variety of ways to detect and identify chemical agents, from stationary detectors that monitor the air for toxic clouds at a distance, or handheld devices that travel with a soldier and give off a warning in the event of a chemical exposure.
But detecting biological agents is another feat entirely — living organisms are orders of magnitude more complex, constantly changing, and take much longer to identify. Typical lab tests can take hours (if not days) to analyze, process, and confirm a specific biological agent, and that’s only if the lab knows exactly what antigen it’s looking for.
This sensor, therefore, seems beyond any reasonable stretch of the imagination. It would pack all existing chemical-agent-detecting capabilities into a tiny cell. It would solve the hugely daunting problem of identifying not just one, but hundreds of dangerous biological organisms (many of which look indistinguishable from harmless germs). And most significantly, it would do this all in real time (Wired, 2011).
Title: Facebook Application To Simulate Spread Of
Date: September 6, 2011
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: A Facebook application developed in a lab at Israel's
Tel Aviv University that simulates the spread of a virus may serve as a strong
indicator of how infections spread among populations.
The app, called PiggyDemic, allows users to "infect" their friends with a simulated virus or become infected themselves. The resulting patterns may allow researchers to gather information on how a virus mutates, how it spreads through human interaction and the amount of people it infects, Health Care IT News reports.
Gal Almogy and Nir Ben-Tal of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at TAU's George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences developed the app. Scientists currently use mathematical algorithms to determine which virus will spread and how, but the system assumes a virus has equal distribution across populations, which does not take into account patterns of social interaction.
"HIV is concentrated in Africa; certain types of flu are widespread in North America and Asia," Almogy said, according to Health Care IT News. "Adding the element of human interaction, and looking at the social networks we belong to, is critical for investigating viral interaction."
Because Facebook's digital interactions simulate in-person interactions, the site is an ideal tool for such an undertaking, according to Almogy.
Once the app is added to a user's account, PiggyDemic follows the user's newsfeed to determine the people with which they interact, according to Health Care IT News. The researchers follow these interactions using network visualization software, which creates a more accurate model of viral dynamics. Almogy said that improving this model is vital for developing public health policy.
"People who have this software can report if they are actually ill," Almogy said, according to Health Care IT News. "If we know who their friends are and the sequence of the infecting virus, we can figure out which virus they have and how it passes from one person to another" (Bio Prep Watch, 2011).
Title: PharmaJet, AMRIID Cooperating On Needle-Free Smallpox Vaccine
Date: December 8, 2011
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: PharmaJet, Inc., and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases have signed a cooperative research and development agreement to combine PharmaJet’s needle-free jet injection delivery system and USAMRIID’s candidate gene-based smallpox vaccine.
The USAMRIID vaccine, patented under the name 4pox, is a combination of genes that, when delivered together, can provide protection from orthopoxviruses like the monkeypox and vaccinia viruses when used in animal models.
Led by USAMRIID’s Dr. Jay Hooper, four different co-delivered immunogens will be tested for immune responses using a PharmaJet needle-free intradermal delivery system.
The test will compare new data with existing data that has been produced by PharmaJet and alternative devices.
“PharmaJet is very pleased to continue to work with USAMRIID,” Linda McAllister, the acting CEO of PharmaJet, said. “We are very excited about the potential for our needle-free, jet injection, intradermal technology to contribute to the efficacy of this important new class of DNA-based vaccines.
The field of
gene-based molecular vaccines continues to search for effective, practical and
safe delivery technologies, and the 4pox gene-based vaccine has already been
evaluated in preclinical models using muscle and skin electroporation and gene
gun technology. PharmaJet’s needle-free technology may also be evaluated for
other DNA vaccines of military importance, which could be added in addendums to
the current CRADA (Bio Prep Watch, 2011).