War on Terrorism

Monday, November 24, 2008

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- November 24, 2008

Wouter Basson [South African germ warfare expert] hearing postponed
“A Health Professions Council of South Africa hearing on apartheid era germ warfare expert Wouter Basson was postponed without a date today. The hearing, held at a hotel in Pretoria, was postponed pending the outcome of an application by the defence. Basson’s legal team wants the Pretoria High Court to declare the manner in which the HPCSA has dealt with the matter ‘unlawful, unreasonable and unfair.’ The affidavit will be filed before the courts this week, after which the council will be able to file an answering affidavit. Basson, who was not at the hearing, faces six charges relating to his time as head of the apartheid government’s chemical and biological warfare project.” (The Times; 24Nov08; Source: Sapa)

War experts gave anthrax advice
“Warfare experts from the US and Germany gave advice on decontamination after an anthrax death in the Scottish Borders, a fatal accident inquiry has been told. UK authorities had so little experience of the disease they got international help after the incident in 2006, [when] Christopher ‘Pascal’ Norris […] died as a result of inhaling anthrax spores. […] Early investigations centred on Mr Norris's own home. […] His house was found to be clear of spores but some were found on drums […] where classes were held. […] [Ramsay] said they took advice from warfare experts in Germany and America before instructing US company Sabre to decontaminate the hall using chlorine dioxide gas in March 2007.” (BBC News; 24Nov08) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/south_of_scotland/7746436.stm

[New anti-PS antibody drug] Bavituximab can cure lethal virus infections
“Peregrine Pharmaceuticals, Inc. yesterday reported the publication of data in Nature Medicine that supports the broad anti-viral potential of the company's novel anti-phosphatidylserine (anti-PS) antibody platform, showing that its PS-targeting drug bavituximab can cure lethal virus infections in animal disease models. Bavituximab is in clinical trials for the treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and in preclinical development for the treatment of viral hemorrhagic fevers under a contract worth up to $44.4 million with the bioterrorism program of the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). Bavituximab and other anti-PS antibodies are also being studied preclinically in HIV, cytomegalovirus (CMV) and other serious viral infections.” (RedOrbit; 24Nov08; Source: University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center) http://www.redorbit.com/news/health/1602483/bavituximab_can_cure_lethal_virus_infections/

Scientists build ‘roach motel’ for nasty bugs of the bacterial variety
“Scientists at the University of
Florida and the University of New Mexico have created tiny microscopic spheres that trap and kill harmful bacteria in a manner the scientists liken to ‘roach motels’ snaring and killing cockroaches. The research could lead to new coatings that will disinfect common surfaces, combat bioterrorism or sterilize medical devices, reducing the devices’ responsibility for an estimated 1.4 million infection-related deaths each year. ‘The bacteria get in there, they get stuck, and then they get killed,’ said Kirk Schanze, a UF professor of chemistry and one of eight authors of the paper […] set to be published today in the debut issue of the American Chemical Society journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.” (University of Florida News; 24Nov08; Aaron Hoover) http://news.ufl.edu/2008/11/24/bacteria-motel/

State [TX] declares emergency [in 2007] to buy TB isolation booths that sit unused
“The [TX] state health department declared an emergency in August 2007 so it could immediately buy nine mobile units for isolating tuberculosis and other highly infectious patients without seeking bids from companies that sell the units. […] But nearly a year after the portable booths, which cost a total of $180,000, were delivered, they are sitting largely unused at health centers across the state. […] [The] justification for the emergency last year [was] that Texas was rushing to build the infrastructure and capacity for the ‘impending’ pandemic flu, to prevent the spread of TB (through droplets in the air) and to isolate patients in the event of a bioterrorism attack involving an unknown disease. A worldwide flu epidemic is predicted to occur someday, but no one knows when. […] Department of State Health Services spokeswoman Carrie Williams called the booths ‘a tool to help quickly control the spread of infectious diseases.’” (American-Statesman; 23Nov08; Mary Ann Roser) http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/local/11/23/1123tb.html

Diseases researched at new MU [Missouri University] laboratory
“In 2001, the scare was anthrax. In 2003, it was SARS, severe acute respiratory syndrome. And in 2005, it was bird flu. ‘It seems like odd-numbered years are pretty bad,’ joked Michael Kurilla, director of the office of biodefense research for the National Institutes of Health. ‘And we're about to enter 2009.’ Infectious diseases strike suddenly and can change quickly, leaving scientists scrambling to develop effective treatments. Staying one step ahead of disease is the goal of the new $18 million Regional Biocontainment Laboratory at the University of Missouri. There, scientists will study diseases including the plague, anthrax and ‘Q Fever’ in a safe, contained environment. Experts say the research will be essential in battling the next generation of diseases.” (Columbia Daily Tribune; 24Nov08; T.J. Greaney)

[CA] Scientists identify blood component that turns [anthrax] bacteria virulent
“Scientists from the Scripps Research Institute [CA] have discovered the key chemical that signals Bacillus anthracis, the bacterium that causes anthrax, to become lethal. […] The Scripps Research scientists identified bicarbonate, a chemical found in all body fluids and organs that plays a major role in maintaining pH balance in cells, as providing the signal for Bacillus anthracis to unleash virulence factors. Without the presence of the bicarbonate transporter in the bloodstream, the scientists found, the bacteria do not become virulent. […] The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that as many as 10 percent of all patients, or about 2 million people, contract hospital-acquired infections each year. These bacteria are often resistant to multiple antibiotics, making the problem a growing public health concern.” (Infection Control Today; 24Nov08; Source: Scripps Research Institute) http://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/hotnews/component-turns-bacteria-virulent.html

Al-Qaeda increases efforts to develop ‘dirty bomb’
“MI6 has issued a global priority warning to all security services that Islamic terrorists are now closer to obtaining material to create a ‘dirty bomb’ to launch against Western targets. […] [Osama bin Laden] has repeatedly said every ‘true Muslim must make it his duty to assist in all ways possible to find the next powerful weapon to destroy our enemies’.[…] MI6 fears there will be little ability [in Pakistan] to provide strong
leadership against the new wave of Islamic extremism that al-Qaeda has launched across the country. Groups such as the newly formed Pakistan Taliban have proclaimed it is focusing on creating a ‘dirty bomb.’MI6 agents based in Islamabad fear the mounting instability in Pakistan will make it easier for them to do so.” (Epoch Times; 22Nov08; Gordon Thomas) http://en.epochtimes.com/n2/world/al-qaeda-develop-dirty-bomb-7569.html

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.

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