War on Terrorism

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, July 15, 2009

Researchers image crucial anthrax [bacteria] protein [Chicago, IL]
"Anthrax, long feared for its potential as a biological weapon, has lost some of its mystery. Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, in collaboration with scientists at the University of Chicago, have determined the structure of a protein crucial to the virulence of anthrax bacteria. One of anthrax's [sic] most dangerous features is its ability to exist as a spore. […] Once in the bloodstream […] the bacterium germinates, triggering a dangerous infection. The activated anthrax bacterium looks like a thin rod swathed in a thick protective capsule coating. This capsule coat lets the bacteria evade macrophages, the roving white blood cells that form the first line of our immune response. The researchers examined a gene that codes for a particular enzyme called CapD, a protein that helps the bacteria form its protective coating once it enters the body. CapD sits on the surface of the cell, grabs molecules of the capsule's building blocks […] and attaches them to the bacteria's outer wall to form its shield. […] 'Macrophages can't deal with the protective capsule of anthrax [spores] […], they can't recognize it. That's how they fool the system,' [said Andrzej Joachimiak, a co-author of the study]. Joachimiak and the team wanted to map out the crystal structure of CapD. Once the researchers discovered the enzyme's structure, they could begin to search for a molecule that could block its function - which in turn would make the bacteria more vulnerable to human defenses." (Science Centric; 15Jul09; Source: Argonne National Laboratory)

Biodevelopment and the biological weapons convention
"Peter Singer and Abdullah Daar [both of McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health, Toronto] […] argue that we should reconcile 'the bright and dark sides of biotechnology' outside of the BWC in a new initiative that has the single purpose of putting biotechnology to use for the good of human security. The implication is that current intergovernmental processes aren't well suited to achieve these goals, particularly if they're dominated by Western concerns. […] They posit we need a more flexible approach that incorporates more actors from the international community. [… Singer and Daar] correctly point out that the BWC […] is weak because it has no effective enforcement mechanism and no major international organization to help accomplish its goals. They […] make the incorrect assertion that 'while it binds signatory states, it does not catch the non-state actors that are essential to matters of biotech governance.' In fact […] the convention binds not just states but everyone in the territory of State Parties or in other places under their jurisdiction or control. By pointing out the flaws of the BWC without taking into account the way that State Parties have developed interim reviews and meetings via the Intersessional Process, Singer and Daar have ignored important aspects of the BWC that seek to benefit biotechnology and biodevelopment. As in other international agreements concerned with weapons of mass destruction […] the BWC […] deals with the use of the technology for peaceful purposes [… and has] come to include in-depth implementation and raising scientists' awareness of the dangers of misuse of their work." (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists; 14Jul09; Malcolm Dando) http://www.thebulletin.org/web-edition/columnists/malcolm-dando/biodevelopment-and-the-biological-weapons-convention

Pirates die from possible chemical weapons on Iranian ship
"Pirates who hijacked an Iranian ship have become sick and some have died after coming into contact with the ships' cargo. The 40 pirates hijacked the M.V. Deyanat in the Gulf of Aden. The Sunday Times reported that the pirates became ill, suffered apparent skin burns and lost hair. The Director of the East African Seafarer's Assistance Programme, Andrew Mwangira, said 'We don't know exactly how many, but the information that I am getting is that some of them had died. There is something very wrong about that ship.' The ship, which is owned by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) was carrying a declared cargo of 'minerals and industrial products,' but [U.S. and Somali] officials are convinced the ship was carrying chemical weapons to extremist Muslim rebels in Somalia. The U.S. Treasury Department says the IRISL regularly falsifies manifests and other documents to circumvent U.N. sanctions. Mwangira added: Our sources say it contains chemicals, dangerous chemicals. The IRISL company has not only denied the report, but has threatened to sue Mwangira." (Digital Journal; 14Jul09; Christopher Szabo)

WSU [Wayne State University] researcher tests drops as chemical weapons aid [Detroit, MI]
"A medical researcher is testing newly developed eye drops as a protection for U.S. soldiers against the blinding effects of some chemical weapons. Dr. Gabriel Sosne is an associate professor at Wayne State University's medical school. He's working with Bethesda, M[aryland]- based RegeneRx Biopharmaceuticals Inc. and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense to evaluate the drops as protection from the blinding effects of mustard gas and similar chemicals. […] The year-long tests will see if Thymosin Beta 4 works when used before and after exposure." (Chicago Tribune; 15Jul09; Source: AP)

Raytheon awarded phase II for SWARM [Stand-Off Warning Against Radiological Materials]
"The U.S. Homeland Security Department has awarded Raytheon a phase II contract to continue development of a radiation detection technology. U.S. company Raytheon was awarded the follow-on contract, managed by the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office under the Exploratory Research in Nuclear Detection Technology Program. Raytheon will continue development of the Stand-Off Warning Against Radiological Materials [SWARM] program. Under the $1.176 million phase II deal, Raytheon will develop a capability for the SWARM radiation detection program […]. 'The goal of the SWARM program is to take a strategic and analytical approach to addressing the challenges of radiation detection in a realistic environment,' [said] Michael Del Checcolo, Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems vice president of engineering […]. 'The team is developing modeling capability to optimize the number and types of sensors being used for detection, along with the architecture necessary to implement a distributed sensor network to protect our nation from the threat of nuclear terrorism.'" (United Press International; 13Jul09) http://www.upi.com/Security_Industry/2009/07/13/Raytheon-awarded-phase-II-for-SWARM/UPI-96301247512176/

ADVTX [Advanced Therapeutics] Announces New Treatment for Bleeding After Nuclear Exposure
"Advanced Therapeutics & Co. (ADVTX) announced today that Fibrinoplate-S has shown efficacy in reducing the bleeding in animals exposed to extreme doses of radiation. Survivors of a nuclear event or a dirty bomb explosion will have similar damage from the ionizing radiation of such bombs. 'Acute radiation can severely damage the bone marrow,' Richard Yen, Ph.D., M.D., CEO of ADVTX explained. 'While existing medications can boost the production of red cells and white cells from the recovering bone marrow, there is no effective treatment for low concentrations of platelets except through platelet transfusion. Donor platelets, however, may not be available or adequately screened for pathogens during times of distress.'
ADVTX Fibrinoplate-S, a suspension formulation of human albumin spheres coated with a coagulation factor (fibrinogen), mimics the action of activated platelets. Random clots have not been observed even as bleeding improves after the administration of Fibrinoplate-S. In preclinical trials, Fibrinoplate-S reduced bleeding within 2 hours after a bolus intravenous administration in test subjects with less than 1% of the normal platelet count. The beneficial effects last at least 24 hours. There is no need to match the recipients' blood types. Fibrinoplate-S can be given to a large number of patients quickly. ADVTX can scale up its production of Fibrinoplate-S quickly. Government agencies may include Fibrinoplate-S in their emergency response plans by submitting a 'pre-EUA' (pre-Emergency Use Approval) to the US FDA." (Business Wire; 15Jul09) http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/google/?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20090715005051&newsLang=en

Chlorine gas 'leaks' aboard plane, but passengers, crew stay cool [exercise, Manila]
"A cargo of poisonous chlorine gas aboard a Fokker F-27 airplane accidentally leaked on Wednesday while the aircraft was parked on the tarmac, but there was no panic because […] the whole show was part of an airport exercise to deal with chemical and biological threats. […] This full-scale chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives (CBRNE) exercise was held at the old Balagbag Terminal under the supervision of that the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA). The rescue exercise is held every two years in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization safety and emergency protocols. Observing the training are members of the Airlines Operations Council to find out if there are deficiencies in response time and other pertinent action, and seeing to it the exercise hews as close as possible to a real life-threatening situation. […] Other attendees include representatives from the Department of Transportation and Communications Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, National Disaster Coordination Center, and the National Police-Aviation Security Command. 'This is a very realistic exercise approximating a future scenario, and I am glad that the MIAA gave a sterling performance,' said [Defense chief Gilbert] Teodoro. Airport general manager Alfonso Cusi said that 'chemical terrorism is one of the most anticipated forms of terrorist attacks nowadays, and the MIAA cannot remain complacent as it is the main international gateway in the country.'" (Business Mirror; 15Jul09; Recto Mercene) http://businessmirror.com.ph/home/nation/13254-chlorine-gas-leaks-aboard-plane-but-passengers-crew-stay-cool.html

Avon rubber wins another US defence order
"Avon Rubber of the UK said its subsidiary Avon Protection Systems has won an additional order for spare parts from the US Department of Defense [DoD]. Under the $20.7 m[illion] contract, Avon will provide 726,834 Chemical B canisters for the Joint Service General Purpose Mask (JSGPM) Program. […] Avon's M50 respirator is made at its facility in Cadillac, Michigan. The mask provides respiratory protection against chemical and biological warfare agents, some toxic industrial materials, and particulate matter including radioactive hazards." (Plastics and Rubber Weekly; 14Jul09; David Eldridge)

Secretary Napolitano observes maritime security response team demonstration
"Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today visited the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Frank Drew in Portsmouth, V[irginia], to discuss maritime security and view a demonstration by a Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT) - a Coast Guard counterterrorism unit with advanced interdiction capabilities. 'Maritime security is critical to interdicting threats before they reach our borders,' said Secretary Napolitano. 'The Coast Guard Maritime Security Response Team is an effective tool for responding to any maritime incident at a moment's notice.' […] Prepared to conduct maritime threat response unilaterally or as part of an interagency operation, the team is trained to meet chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive threats. […] This flexible, full spectrum support provides a ready, rapid response force actively positioned and prepared to operate well off-shore and in our nation's ports, rivers, and waterways." (Web Wire; 14Jul09)

Defentect to support self-storage security [Norwalk, CT]\
"Defentect announced it has been contracted to deliver its radiation and chemical threat detection technologies to an automated self-storage facility in Florida. U.S. company Defentect was selected by Safe & Secure Automated Self Storage operator to deliver its DM3, Gammatect radiation and its CT2020 ComboPro chemical detector monitoring and messaging software platform. Officials from Safe & Secure, an approximately 52,000-square-foot self-storage facility in South Florida, awarded Defentect the contract as part of an effort to ensure the safe storage of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high yield explosives materials. 'Our mission is to provide convenience and security,' [said] Paul Talley, Safe & Secure Automated Self Storage general contractor and vice president of construction. 'With Defentect's CBRNE solutions, we are able to safeguard against facilities being used for illicit purposes.'" (United Press International; 14Jul09)

Crosslink nears Defense project 'crunch time,' $8 m[illion] of research is wrapping up at JVIC [Jordan Valley Innovation Center]; another phase is on the horizon
"Five researchers from St. Louis-based Crosslink Inc. are working tirelessly to meet a deadline at the end of July - a milestone in a U.S. Defense project now three years running. […] The team has been developing a process for detoxifying fabrics by coating them with certain substances that, when activated by a power source, quickly destroy chemical and biological weapons that come in contact with the fabrics. The federally funded project is being developed for the U.S. Army to use on tents and other shelters. Until now, Crosslink has tested the polymer detoxification system on chemical and biological agents that only mimic the properties of real weapons, which could range from anthrax [spores] to mustard gas. […] The first phase [of the project] received $2.8 million in federal funding, and the ongoing second phase received about $5 million. […] With a positive review, Crosslink would partially turn the project over to Columbus, Ohio-based Battelle Memorial Institute […], one of only a few [facilities] in the country equipped to do live-agent testing with toxic chemicals and bacteria. […] Live-agent testing is slated to wrap up with the close of Phase II at the end of the year." (Springfield Business Journal; 13Jul09; Dee Dee Jacobs)

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