Germ Research Gets Urgent; Bioterrorism Fuels Interest, Funding of Scientific Projects

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 9, 2003 | Go to article overview

Germ Research Gets Urgent; Bioterrorism Fuels Interest, Funding of Scientific Projects


Byline: Tom Ramstack, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Continuing bioterrorism scares are breathing new life into obscure scientific projects as the nation gropes for a way to defend itself from deadly microbes.

The sudden interest in microbiology is fueled by revelations such as the discovery of a mobile bioterrorism laboratory that traveled Iraqi highways.

A few thousand miles away, a South African court is revealing details of an apartheid-era contingency plan to use anthrax on black communities.

The U.S. government is waging an uphill battle against the tiny and nearly untraceable microbes of bioterrorism.

"If you can brew beer, you can make a bug," FBI spokesman Bill Carter said, recalling a warning from an FBI scientist on manufactured viruses.

The elusiveness of the bacteria spores and microscopic viruses is turning bioterrorism research into big business. Companies that focused on cures for cancer and Alzheimer's disease are finding bigger profits in vaccines, antidotes and other bug-fighting tools.

But the bioterrorism scare also is creating new fears for researchers, both in terms of safety and criminal liability.

Good for business

Concerns about bioterrorism are resulting in the kind of device Army scientists demonstrated at a recent biodefense conference in Baltimore.

The handheld "microarray" system tests white blood cells to detect viruses within 36 hours of exposure, sometimes even before victims know they are sick.

The device is supposed to be an early warning system against biological bombs. It was developed by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research for the malaria soldiers might encounter in other countries.

"In many cases the products of that research apply to public health," said Chuck Dasey, spokesman for the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.

The Army plans to refine the system to detect anthrax, smallpox and other diseases.

Before the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Silver Spring researchers worked largely in isolation to develop cures for malaria, hepatitis, dengue fever and common battle injuries.

The terrorist attacks, anthrax in letters a month later and the risks of a biochemical war unleashed on the United States refocused their attention.

Now, the military and its private contractors in the biotechnology industry have decided that what's good for business is good for the country.

"It appears that private investments in bioterrorism research are believed to be more likely to bring near-term payback," said Sau Lan Tang Staats, chief executive officer of Phoenix Science & Technology Inc.

The Elkton, Md., company produces disposable equipment for biotechnology research.

Before the attacks, the company had difficulty finding financial backers and customers. Now its equipment is being tested by the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground, which houses a biochemical defense laboratory in Northeast Maryland.

In addition, the Maryland Technology Development Corp., a public-private venture that encourages technology business in Maryland, is interested in investing $50,000 in the company.

Gaithersburg biotech company GenVec Inc. is using malaria vaccine technology it developed with the Navy to work on a SARS vaccine. SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, is a virus that started in China in November and has been spreading around the world.

Chief Executive Paul Fischer said similar technology could be a safeguard against bioterrorism.

"The core technology is essentially the same," Mr. Fischer said. "That same kind of technology could be available in the future for these unknown events."

Cell Works Inc. in Baltimore wants to develop a blood test for anthrax, similar to a system for cancer cells it produces.

"It's something that companies like ours can incorporate into our diagnostic technology," Vice President Peter Rheinstein said. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Germ Research Gets Urgent; Bioterrorism Fuels Interest, Funding of Scientific Projects
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.