- News Home
5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
- About Us
Girding for Smallpox
22 October 1999 7:00 pm
U.S. health agencies appear ready to plow more cash into reducing one type of bioterrorist risk--an attack with the infamous smallpox virus. On 20 October, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) invited scientists to apply for grants under three defense initiatives related to the "orthopoxviruses," a family of infectious agents that includes smallpox. All three offers, says NIAID virology branch chief Catherine Laughlin, are designed to continue a biodefense initiative started last year.
NIAID wants to spend $500,000 to create an "orthopoxvirus genomics and bioinformatics resource center" that would help the search for smallpox therapies and new vaccines. Another $350,000 is in the offing for the development of treatments that counteract side effects of the current smallpox vaccine. Because it is based on a live virus, that vaccine can trigger an aggressive infection in people whose immune systems are weak--such as AIDS patients, people undergoing immunosuppression for cancer therapy, and very young children. Finally, NIAID has $1.5 million on hand for researchers interested in looking for new drugs that combat orthopoxvirus infection. At present, there are no practical therapies.
Although smallpox has essentially been eradicated from the globe, the Clinton Administration is concerned that a terrorist group or a "rogue" nation like Iraq might try to exploit the virus for political purposes. Because vaccination against the disease stopped here in the 1960s, U.S. citizens would be particularly vulnerable to infection if exposed to the virus. Currently, stocks of vaccine and vaccine-related therapeutics are aging and in short supply. NIAID hopes the research will lead to new products that can be used to rebuild those stockpiles. Applications for funding must be submitted by 19 January 2000.