ACCESSIBILITY AT UNOG A A A A The United Nations in the Heart of Europe

Recent developments in Science and Technology

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During the course of its duties, the BWC Implementation Support Unit becomes aware of various developments in the life sciences that could be relevant to efforts to review advances under the current work programme. Such advances are recorded below.

New developments

Understanding of pathogenicity, virulence, toxicity, immunology and related issues:
  • Morens et al, Pandemic Influenza Viruses - Hoping for the Road Not Taken, New England Journal of Medicine, http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1307009, details the difficulties in assessing evolutionary pathways leading to pandemic influenza. This paper also looks back at past pandemics over the last century and uses them to provide perspectives on recent and ongoing influenza outbreaks. (Added 9 August 2013)
  • Nathanael Johnson - Genetically engineered food: Allergic to regulations?, http://tinyurl.com/p5bx7ow, This blog post, in everyday language, examines efforts to assess risk from allergens from GM food. They seem to struggle with many of the same issues as when trying to assess risk connected to pathogenicity, virulence, toxicity, etc., especially how to deal with the introduction of material not previously identified as being relevant, as well as impact of modulation of the metabolism of the recipient organism. There may be interesting insights here for S&T discussions in 2014. (Added 31 July 2013)

Enabling technology:
Engineering biological systems and networks

Advances in dealing with disease:
Therapeutics
  • Novel antibiotics - Kyoung Hwa Jang et al, Anthracimycin, a Potent Anthrax Antibiotic from a Marine-Derived ActinomyceteAngewandte Chemie International Edition, http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201302749, details the discovery of an entirely new class of antibiotic - Anthracimycin. The paper details significant activity toward Bacillus anthracis and illustrates how to manipulate the drug so it retains activity against Gram-positive bacteria, such as anthrax, but also shows activity against selected Gram-negative bacteria. (Added 6 August 2013)
  • Antimicrobial resistance - Maryn McKenna's Nature News Feature, http://tinyurl.com/qheyzp3, describes the emergence of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CREs). These bacteria "evade the action of almost all antibiotics — including the carbapenems, which are considered drugs of last resort". The article also includes insights and views from various public health experts on the nature of the threat posed by the development of this anti-biotic resistance as well as options for dealing with it. (Added 2 August 2013)

Prevention and prophylaxis
  • Smith et al - Development of influenza H7N9 virus like particle (VLP) vaccine: Homologous A/Anhui/1/2013 (H7N9) protection and heterologous A/chicken/Jalisco/CPA1/2012 (H7N3) cross-protection in vaccinated mice challenged with H7N9 virus, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2013.07.043. This paper describes a virus like particle created to contain key regions of the H7N9 virus. This vaccine candidate showed great promise of protecting against the disease in mice. (Added 31 July 2013)
  • Marohn and Barry, Live attenuated tularemia vaccines: Recent developments and future goals, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2013.05.096. The paper review recent advances in creating vaccines for this infectious disease, which has in the past been developed as a biological weapon. (Added July 2013)

Diagnostics

Production, dispersal and delivery technologies:
  • Buckley et al, Genetic Barcodes for Improved Environmental Tracking of an Anthrax Simulant, http://aem.asm.org/content/78/23/8272.full . A mechanism for effectively tracking agents following an environmental release "providing specific artificial detection signatures". (Added July 2013)
  • Emanuel et al, Detection and Tracking of a Novel Genetically Tagged Biological Simulant in the Environment, http://aem.asm.org/content/78/23/8281.full . A proof of principle study of the Buckley et al paper, using an anthrax simulant. (Added July 2013)

Advances covered by 2013 Background Paper

Basic Science:


Mechanisms of Diseases:
Emerging and Re-emerging Diseases

Immune System

Pathogens and Hosts

Prion Diseases


Detection:
Detecting Disease event

Tracking, Surveillance & Epidemiology

Diagnosis Prior to Symptons


Diagnostics:
Cheap Equipment

Point of care Diagnostics

Accuracy


Prevention:
New Vaccines

Novel Approaches

Drug Deliveries

Production Technology


Therapeutics:
Novel Antibiotics


Novel Antivirals
Toxin Therapeutics

Anti-Prion Therapeutics

Novel Approaches

Counterfeit Therapeutics

Antimicrobial Resistance


Response:
Restricting Spread
  • Preventing Pandemics Via International Development: A Systems Approach
http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1001354

Decontamination
  • Lab-Scale Assessment to Support Remediation of Outdoor Surfaces Contaminated with Bacillus anthracis Spores
http://www.omicsonline.org/2157-2526/2157-2526-2-110.php

Efficiency of Response