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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
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,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Biowarrior Branches Out
9 October 2002 (All day)
Kenneth Alibek, the former Soviet biowarfare expert who defected to the United States in 1992, has truly embraced his adopted country--including its capitalist ways. Last month, Alibek, chief scientist of Advanced Biosystems Inc. and director of the Center for Biodefense at George Mason University (GMU) in Virginia, lent his name to a nutritional supplement called "Dr. Ken Alibek's Immune System Support Formula."
"Your Body Is Under Constant Attack!" cry the full-page ads for the product, which have appeared in such newsstand mainstays as U.S. News & World Report. The concoction of vitamins, minerals, and a proprietary bacterial mix--a month's supply costs $59.95 plus tax and shipping--will help ward off those attacks, the former communist tells ScienceNOW. Alibek says the pills have nothing to do with his research on how the body can defend against bioterrorist agents--he just acted as a consultant to Vital Basics, the Portland, Maine-based company that produces the pills.
Some colleagues say they first thought the ad was a spoof and wonder how Alibek's commercial adventure will affect his scientific credibility. "What's the experimental basis?" asks virologist Peter Jahrling of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Fort Detrick, Maryland. "This is snake oil." But Christopher Hill, GMU vice provost for research, says there's nothing improper about Alibek's sideline so long as he doesn't make false claims or suggest that GMU supports his pills.