The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its updated Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States Report (AR Threats Report), which shows that there were nearly twice as many annual deaths from antibiotic-resistant infections as CDC originally reported in 2013. CDC’s 2019 report establishes a new national baseline of infections and deaths from antibiotic-resistant germs. The new report categorizes the top antibiotic-resistant threats based on level of concern to human health: urgent, serious, or concerning.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued final guidance, “Smallpox (Variola Virus) Infection: Developing Drugs for Treatment or Prevention,” which is designed to assist drug manufacturers designing studies to appropriately establish the safety and efficacy of drugs to treat or prevent smallpox infection. Although smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980, concerns exist that it could remain in unknown locations or be used as a biological weapon.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) newest biotechnology funding opportunity aims to incorporate gene editors into detectors for distributed health biosurveillance and rapid, point-of-need diagnostics for endemic, emerging, and engineered pathogenic threats. The goal of the “Detect It with Gene Editing Technologies” (DIGET) program is to provide comprehensive, specific, and trusted information about health threats to medical decision-makers within minutes. This will prevent the spread of disease, enable timely deployment of countermeasures, and improve the standard of care after diagnosis.
A novel diagnostics technology will receive advanced development support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This technology reads gene expression patterns in the immune system to distinguish bacterial infections from viral infections and determines the severity within minutes. Rapid information on whether an infection is viral versus bacterial will help doctors make earlier, better-informed decisions about whether to treat the infection with or without antibiotics.
The World Health Organization (WHO) prequalified an Ebola vaccine for the first time, a critical step that will help speed up its licensing, access, and roll-out in countries most at risk of Ebola outbreaks. United Nations agencies and the Vaccine Alliance can procure the vaccine for at-risk countries based on this WHO recommendation.
To help address border security and ensure United States Border Patrol (USBP) agents can perform their job both safely and effectively, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) recently collaborated with the USBP and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers to deliver a multi-part solution by implementing innovative tools and capabilities that enable USBP agents to leverage the knowledge, skills, and abilities of expert trackers and use emerging technologies to maximize their tracking performance.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will partner with Cytovale of San Francisco, to advance the development of a test that may be able to diagnose sepsis in less than 10 minutes. Sepsis could pose an even greater health security threat in a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear emergency, or as a complication of an influenza pandemic or other emerging infectious disease outbreak.
With the very real possibility of a chemical attack in public, the United States needs to be prepared to take appropriate action to save lives. The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate has developed a suite of models to help federal agencies analyze threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences of potential attacks to prioritize resources for the most effective defense and response.
A new Global Health Security (GHS) Index, the first comprehensive assessment and benchmarking of health security and related capabilities across 195 countries, suggests that not a single country in the world is fully prepared to handle an epidemic or pandemic. The inaugural GHS Index finds severe weaknesses in countries’ abilities to prevent, detect, and respond to significant disease outbreaks.
Researchers in Lincoln Laboratory's Chemical and Biological Technologies Group and Advanced Materials and Microsystems Group are using a color-changing technique while developing a self-reading "pH fabric" that could help warn of dangerous chemical releases. This technology could help address the evolving threat of chemical releases, including those from industrial incidents or terrorist attacks.