Three-Minute Anthrax Sensor
“A sensor system that can rapidly detect six potential airborne bioterror agents, including [spores that cause] anthrax, is now on the market. The detector relies on living immune-system cells genetically engineered to emit light when exposed to a particular contaminant. From sampling the air to getting a readout from the cells, the detection process takes only three minutes. The company selling the sensor, Innovative Biosensors, of Rockville, MD, is marketing it for use in airports and other buildings, including laboratories where research on dangerous pathogens is performed.” (Technology Review; 18Mar08; Katherine Bourzac).
Missouri and Illinois health officials to conduct [a]nthrax exercise
“Health officials in Missouri and Illinois will be conducting a large-scale exercise tomorrow to test their response to a biological attack. The exercise will simulate how health officials and emergency responders would handle an [a]nthrax attack in the St. Louis area. The activities will be conducted behind closed doors and not out in public.”
(KMWU News; 17Mar08; Marshall Griffin).
Inflammatory response to dying cells' distress calls may be helpful or harmful
“[…] The [Dr. Brad T.] Cookson lab [at the University of Washington] has done many studies of caspase-1 and how it mediates the pathway of pro-inflammatory programmed cell death. The lab's most recent study will be published the week of March 10 to March 14 in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study looked at how two different noxious stimuli, anthrax toxin and Salmonella infection, trigger the caspase-1-mediated cell death pathway.” (Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News; 17Mar08).
Police make chip that can ID bioweapons quickly
“The [Japanese] National Research Institute of Police Science has developed a new type of DNA chip that can identify which biological weapon has been spread in the event of a bioterrorist attack. […] The chip is encased in a cassette measuring 5.3 centimeters by 3.5 centimeters. It contains DNA information on 20 potential biological weapons, such as anthrax [spores] and other bacteria and viruses. When a collected agent is put inside the chip and an electric current applied, the agent multiplies, and it takes only about an hour before the chip determines whether the agent matches a reagent inside.” (The Yomiuri Shimbun; 19Mar08).
[Soccer team] Chelsea[‘s] boss Avram Grant sent second death threat package laced with white powder
“Chelsea boss Avram Grant is at the centre of a new death threat scare after receiving a second package laced with powder and filled with racist abuse. The package, addressed to Mr. Grant, who is Jewish and originally from Israel, arrived at the [Chelsea] club yesterday, according to reports […] Like the first package on February 19, the substance was found to be harmless but the incident has terrified workers.” (The Daily Mail; 18Mar08).
Halabjah memory must 'be kept alive'
“The primary researcher into the chemical attack on the Iraqi town of Halabjah spoke of the importance to keep its memory alive on the event's 20th anniversary. […] He noted that ‘there's absolutely no evidence of birth defects resulting from the use of chemical weapons in 1988’ but pointed to long-term health consequences and the lingering effects on the community as having a sustained impact.” (Middle East Times; 17Mar08).
Paper bombs: The latest terror threat
“[…] In the [radical revolutionary group] Naxals' latest weapon of terror, ammunition is hidden between two slim sheets of paper and any attempt to open them will set off an explosion. The bomb could be disguised as a file, or even an ordinary rundown children's story book. Police have recovered 800 gms of RDX [explosive nitroamine] hidden in such 'paper bombs', during recent raids. […] Says Nitish Priyadarshi, a nuclear expert based in Ranchi [Jharkhand], ‘The explosives are inserted between the thin pages in powder form, and it's controlled either by a radio signal or by some other timers. The concern is that basically that a dirty bomb can be planted inside.’” (Times Now; 18Mar08; Jagori Dhar).
U.S. adapts cold-war idea to fight terrorists
“[…] After piecing together a more nuanced portrait of terrorist organizations, [administration, military and intelligence officials assigned to counter terrorism] say there is reason to believe that a combination of efforts could in fact establish something akin to the posture of deterrence, the strategy that helped protect the United States from a Soviet nuclear attack during the cold war. […] Four years later, however, the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism concluded: ‘A new deterrence calculus combines the need to deter terrorists and supporters from contemplating a WMD attack and, failing that, to dissuade them from actually conducting an attack.’” (International Herald Tribune; 18Mar08; Eric Schmidt and Thom Shanker).
CNS ChemBio-WMD Terrorism News is prepared by the Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in order to bring timely and focused information to researchers and policymakers interested in the fields of chemical, biological, and radiological weapons nonproliferation and WMD terrorism.