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Archive for the ‘biological’ category: Page 130

Nov 29, 2007

Planning for First Lifeboat Foundation Conference Underway

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, cybercrime/malcode, defense, existential risks, futurism, geopolitics, lifeboat, nanotechnology, robotics/AI, space

Planning for the first Lifeboat Foundation conference has begun. This FREE conference will be held in Second Life to keep costs down and ensure that you won’t have to worry about missing work or school.

While an exact date has not yet been set, we intend to offer you an exciting line up of speakers on a day in the late spring or early summer of 2008.

Several members of Lifeboat’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) have already expressed interest in presenting. However, potential speakers need not be Lifeboat Foundation members.

If you’re interested in speaking, want to help, or you just want to learn more, please contact me at [email protected]

Oct 25, 2007

Overview: Biological Weapons Convention

Posted by in categories: biological, treaties

(Source: Wikipedia)

Full name: Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction

Short name: Biological Weapons Convention (BWC)
Open for signature: April 10, 1972
Entered into force: March 26, 1975
Member states: 158
Map of member states:

Continue reading “Overview: Biological Weapons Convention” »

Oct 15, 2007

Structure of influenza B virus protein gives clues to next pandemic

Posted by in categories: biological, defense, existential risks, lifeboat

Determining the structure of a protein called hemagglutinin on the surface of influenza B is giving researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Rice University in Houston clues as to what kinds of mutations could spark the next flu pandemic.

This is interesting research and progress in understanding and possibly blocking changes that would lead to pandemics.

In a report that goes online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Drs. Qinghua Wang, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at BCM, and Jianpeng Ma, associate professor in the same department and their colleagues describe the actual structure of influenza B virus hemagglutinin and compare it to a similar protein on influenza A virus. That comparison may be key to understanding the changes that will have to occur before avian flu (which is a form of influenza A virus) mutates to a form that can easily infect humans, said Ma, who holds a joint appointment at Rice. He and Wang have identified a particular residue or portion of the protein that may play a role in how different types of hemagglutinin bind to human cells.

“What would it take for the bird flu to mutate and start killing people” That’s the next part of our work,” said Ma. Understanding that change may give scientists a handle on how to stymie it.

Continue reading “Structure of influenza B virus protein gives clues to next pandemic” »

Sep 27, 2007

New field-deployable biosensor detects avian influenza virus in minutes instead of days

Posted by in categories: biological, defense, lifeboat

A new biosensor developed at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) can detect avian influenza in just minutes. In addition to being a rapid test, the biosensor is economical, field-deployable, sensitive to different viral strains and requires no labels or reagents.

This kind of technology could be applied to real time monitoring of other diseases as well.


Photograph of the optical biosensor that is approximately 16 millimeters by 33 millimeters in size. The horizontal purple lines are the channels on the waveguide. Credit: Gary Meek

“We can do real-time monitoring of avian influenza infections on the farm, in live-bird markets or in poultry processing facilities,” said Jie Xu, a research scientist in GTRI’s Electro-Optical Systems Laboratory (EOSL)

Continue reading “New field-deployable biosensor detects avian influenza virus in minutes instead of days” »

May 21, 2007

Researchers Endorse Global Early Warning System to Prevent Pandemics

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, defense, existential risks

Five evolutionary stages of pathogen progression from animals to human transmission have been identified A proposed monitoring system of viral chatter has been proposed to provide warning of new diseases before they spread to humans.

In 1999, Wolfe began field work in the jungles of Cameroon to track “viral chatter,” or the regular transmission of diseases from animals to people, usually without further spread among humans. By monitoring the habits and the blood pathologies of bushmeat hunters and their kills, Wolfe and his team have identified at least three previously unknown retroviruses from the same family as HIV, as well as promoted safe practices for handling animals and animal carcasses.

“The Cameroon project demonstrated that it’s possible to collect information on viral transmission under very difficult circumstances from these highly exposed people,” Wolfe said.

With Cameroon as a prototype and a $2.5 million National Institutes of Health Pioneer Award as seed money, Wolfe has gone on to create a network of virus-discovery projects that monitor hunters, butchers, and wildlife trade and zoo workers in some of the world’s most remote viral hotspots. The network of a dozen sites in China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malaysia, Laos, Madagascar and Paraguay include source locations for such emerging diseases as SARS, avian flu, Nipah, Ebola and monkeypox.

Continue reading “Researchers Endorse Global Early Warning System to Prevent Pandemics” »

May 15, 2007

Could Anti-Radiation Drug Protect Us On Earth…And Mars?

Posted by in categories: biological, space

If humanity ever meets lifeforms beyond Earth (or discovers our solitude in our galaxy) one thing will be sure–galactic historians will remark how interesting it must have been living in the nuclear age that “we now enjoy” (assuming we survive of course).

Speaking of nuclear, it seems that some scientists are utilizing a new drug that is showing major promises of fighting against radiation exposure, ensuring that victims not only survive, but remain “semi-healthy” as well.

(Space War) But now researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis report they have developed an agent that protects cells from the lethal effects of radiation, regardless of whether it is given before or after exposure.

Using this agent in mice, the investigators found that the treatment helped shield rapidly dividing cells that are most vulnerable to radiation-induced death, providing proof in principle that it is possible to fend off radiation damage, according to a study published in the April issue of Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications.

Continue reading “Could Anti-Radiation Drug Protect Us On Earth...And Mars?” »

May 4, 2007

US flu control strategy flaws and suggested improvements

Posted by in categories: biological, defense, existential risks

In a report to be published in the peer-reviewed journal PLoS Computational Biology and currently available online, Sally Blower, a professor at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, and Romulus Breban and Raffaele Vardavas, postdoctoral fellows in Blower’s research group, used novel mathematical modeling techniques to predict that current health policy — based on voluntary vaccinations — is not adequate to control severe flu epidemics and pandemics unless vaccination programs offer incentives to individuals.

According to the researchers, the severity of such a health crisis could be reduced if programs were to provide several years of free vaccinations to individuals who pay for only one year. Interestingly, however, some incentive programs could have the opposite effect. Providing free vaccinations for entire families, for example, could actually increase the frequency of severe epidemics. This is because when the head of the household makes a choice — flu shots or no flu shots — on behalf of all the other household members, there is no individual decision-making, and adaptability is decreased.

While other models have determined what proportion of the population would need to be vaccinated in order to prevent a pandemic, none of these models have shown whether this critical coverage can actually be reached. What has been missing, according to Blower, a mathematical and evolutionary biologist, is the human factor.

Continue reading “US flu control strategy flaws and suggested improvements” »

Apr 2, 2007

Decisive, immediate action can reduce Pandemic Deaths

Posted by in categories: biological, defense, existential risks, lifeboat

Cities that quickly closed schools and discouraged public gatherings had fewer deaths from the great flu pandemic in 1918 than cities that did not, researchers reported on Monday. Experts agree that a pandemic of some virus, most likely influenza, is almost 100 percent certain. What is not certain is when it will strike and which virus it will be.

In Kansas City, no more than 20 people could attend weddings or funerals. New York mandated staggered shifts at factories. In Seattle, the mayor told people to wear face masks.

No single action worked on its own, the researchers found, it was the combination of measures that saved lives. Peak death rates can be 50% to eight times lower. St. Louis authorities introduced “a broad series of measures designed to promote social distancing” as soon as flu showed up. Philadelphia downplayed the 1918 flu.

Philadelphia ended up with a peak death rate of 257 people per 100,000 population per week. St. Louis had just 31 per 100,000 at the peak.

Continue reading “Decisive, immediate action can reduce Pandemic Deaths” »

Mar 15, 2007

2007 DARPA Military Technology Plan: Future Medical Promise or Danger?

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, defense, lifeboat, robotics/AI

darpaachievements.jpg

DARPA (the defense advanced research projects agency) is the R&D arm of he US military for far-reaching future technology. What most people do not realize is how much revolutionary medical technology comes out of this agency’s military R&D programs. For those in need of background, you can read about the Army & DARPA’s future soldier Landwarrior program and its medtech offshoots as well as why DARPA does medical research and development that industry won’t. Fear of these future military technologies runs high with a push towards neural activation as a weapon, direct brain-computer interfaces, and drones. However, the new program has enormous potential for revolutionary medical progess as well.

It has been said technology is neutral, it is the application that is either good or evil. (It is worth a side-track to read a discussion on this concept)

The Areas of Focus for DARPA in 2007 and Forward Are:

Continue reading “2007 DARPA Military Technology Plan: Future Medical Promise or Danger?” »