8 Stories

The Moratorium Was 'Unprecedented.' Now It's Over

Feds lift ban on funding research into enhanced potential pandemic pathogens

(Newser) - A door that was shut three years ago has been opened, though how far is unclear: In October 2014, the feds put a moratorium on funding studies on germs that could be altered to cause pandemics, or enhanced potential pandemic pathogens. On Tuesday, the National Institutes of Health announced... More »

Prehistoric 'Frankenviruses' Could Rise Again

Viruses, buried in permafrost, could be revived with climate change

(Newser) - A 30,000-year-old "giant virus" could be brought back to life thanks to a surprise discovery 100 feet deep in Siberia's permafrost. The virus, Mollivirus sibericum or "soft virus from Siberia," qualifies as giant because it is 0.6 micrometers and can be seen under a... More »

Sea Star 'Goo' Problem Getting Worse

Oregon had seemed to be unscathed by the disease. No more

(Newser) - A mysterious disease that has been claiming the lives of sea stars up and down the US, Canadian, and Mexican coasts since last summer has now wiped out as much as 60% of the populations of purple ochre sea stars being watched in Oregon—populations that as of April had... More »

Culprit in Irish Potato Famine Finally Discovered

Potato blight strain HERB-1 now apparently extinct

(Newser) - Nearly two centuries later, researchers believe they have identified the pathogen that led to Ireland's deadly potato famine. To make their discovery, British, German, and American scientists sequenced DNA from samples of dried potato leaves collected between 120 and 170 years ago, reports PhysOrg. They identified the particular strain... More »

Media, Lawmakers Get 'Pathogen' Mail Threats

Powder found in letters threatening Congressmen, Jon Stewart

(Newser) - A mystery letter-writer is threatening to decimate Congress with biological agents. Letters, some of them containing a powdery substance found to be harmless, have been intercepted at the offices of several members of Congress, and at media organizations, including the Washington Post and Viacom, which received two letters addressed to... More »

Why US Would Be Screwed if E. Coli Hit Our Crops

Also, new details emerge about strain that 'glues' itself to intestines

(Newser) - If the new E. coli strain rampaging through Europe ever found its way into US crops, Americans would be pretty screwed—because it would be totally legal to distribute the contaminated veggies. Farmers and processors aren’t required to test their produce for emerging pathogens like this one, the Washington ... More »

12 Ways Climate Change Could Kill You

Warmer temperatures may cause spread of dangerous pathogens

(Newser) - A dozen deadly diseases may become even deadlier as a result of climate change, Scientific American reports. Cholera, tuberculosis, yellow fever, and other ailments are spreading to new areas as temperatures rise, a Wildlife Conservation Society study says. The society suggests monitoring wildlife to prevent a human outbreak of “... More »

Tiny Cancer, Pathogen Sensors Take Giant Leap

New compound may speed nanotech growth

(Newser) - Biosensors that monitor cancer in the body and pathogens in water are one step closer to realization, after experiments revealed a newly efficient microscopic power supply. The sensors themselves have already been engineered in tiny dimensions, but power has been the sticking point, Technology Review reports. New nanogenerators could power... More »

8 Stories