This week we’re covering a new treatment for inhalation anthrax, Russian nuclear threats, chlorine accelerating antibiotic resistance and other stories you may have missed.
Have a great week and see you back here next weekend!
Considered one of the most likely agents to be used in biological warfare, Anthrax now has a new enemy—Anthrasil. This treatment, developed by Emergent BioSolutions Inc., neutralizes toxins of Bacillus anthracis and requires only two doses to confer immunity, versus the three of BioThrax (the current treatment for inhaled anthrax).
Reuters—“The company developed the treatment, Anthrasil, as part of a $160 million contract it signed in 2005 with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a part of the HHS. Anthrasil, which is approved in combination with other antibacterials, is already being stored in the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile, the company said on Wednesday. The drug is made using plasma from healthy, screened donors who have been immunized with Emergent Bio’s Anthrax vaccine, BioThrax, the only FDA-licensed vaccine for the disease. Anthrasil has an orphan drug designation and qualifies for seven years of market exclusivity.”
Denmark has said that in August it will contribute radar capacity on some of its warships to NATO’s missile defense system. Russia has now threatened to aim nuclear missiles at Danish warships if Copenhagen goes through with its actions. Moscow opposes the system arguing that it reduces the effectiveness of the Russian nuclear arsenal and could lead to a new Cold War-style arms race.
The World Post—“‘We have made clear that NATO’s ballistic missile defense is not directed at Russia or any country, but is meant to defend against missile threats. This decision was taken a long time ago, so we are surprised at the timing, tone and content of the statements made by Russia’s ambassador to Denmark,” [NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu] said. “Such statements do not inspire confidence or contribute to predictability, peace or stability.’”
Research presented at the American Chemical Society meeting last week shows that chlorine treatment of wastewater may actually encourage the formation of new antibiotics—rather than eliminating the drug residues. While scientists are looking for new antibiotics, this isn’t good news. ACS says that upon re-entering the environment, the new drugs—in theory—can promote the growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria. In a test, doxycycline was exposed to chlorine; the results are described below.
Gizmodo—“The study evaluated the changes in the antibacterial activity of the products that form in the reaction between doxycycline and chlorine using antibiotic resistance assays. The results showed that some of the transformation products have antibiotic properties. The products of chlorination were also examined…and several chlorinated products were detected. These transformation products may still select for antibiotic resistant micro-organisms in the environment even in the absence of the parent doxycycline molecule. This suggests that re-evaluation of wastewater disinfection practices may be needed.”
Stories You May Have Missed
- As follow up to a story last week, the WHO has denied that politics affected their decision to declare Ebola an international emergency.
- The trial of (approximately) 78 people accused of killing eight Ebola health workers and journalists began on Monday in a remote area of Guinea. The workers were attacked by a mob armed with knives and stones. The defense maintains that the people on trial aren’t the real perpetrators, but just citizens picked up in military sweeps.
- Former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge, as a member of the Blue Ribbon Study Panel of Biodefense, has concluded the U.S. is unprepared for a chemical or biological weapons attack. Ridge went on to say “our government is delusional to think we can get by without a strong biodefense policy.”
- According to the Ministry of Health of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the rate of new MERS infections and deaths have slowed. Since September 2012, 959 have been infected in Saudi Arabia resulting in 418 deaths.
- Happy Birthday BWC! March 26th was the 40th anniversary of when the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention entered into force.
Image Credit: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration