Apr 13, 2009
Scientists say they have developed a fast and supersensitive new test for ricin, a poison found in castor beans that scientists say is a prime candidate for use in bioterrorism attacks. The new method, described in research recently published in Analytical Chemistry, takes only three minutes to detect ricin and is 100 to 1,000 times more sensitive than tests currently available, according to study co-author Vern Schramm, a biochemist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in Bronx, N.Y.
Ricin comes from the castor bean plant Ricinus communis, which is easy and cheap to grow. Extracting the poison from the beans requires simple chromatography, a method of separating chemicals taught in college chemistry classes. If eaten, inhaled or injected into the bloodstream, ricin kills cells by interfering with their ability to manufacture proteins, which can lead to organ failure and death, Schramm explains. There is no treatment for ricin exposure, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Feb 18, 2009
Is Pres. Obama getting closer to filling a key health post? The role of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) chief is down to two candidates, the Washington Post says in an unsourced report: Baltimore Health Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein and former New York City Health Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. Sharfstein's name has been floated repeatedly since Obama was elected, and Hamburg's surfaced early this month.
Dec 2, 2008 | 2
As India picks up the pieces of last week's deadly terrorist attacks in Mumbai, a congressional study warns of a possible bioterror strike in the U.S. by 2013.
In fact, biological weapons–anthrax, Ebola, influenza, and other pathogens–are more likely than nuclear weapons to be used to initiate the attack, according to CNN, which obtained an early copy of the study, which officially released today by the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism. Former Florida Sen. Bob Graham, chair of the panel created earlier this year to probe the possibility of terrorist hits in the U.S., told CNN that if such an attack were to occur, it would be "9/11 times 10 or a hundred in terms of the number of people who would be killed."
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