The method that Staphylococcus aureus (staph) infection uses to inactivate the body’s immune response and cause previously healthy B cells to commit suicide, is described for the first time by researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine. Normally, B cells mount an early defense against invading bacteria. From this immunologic experience, memory B cells are developed with the ability to quickly recognize these antigens and destroy the bacteria if they return in the future. When staph infections occur, however, this important process for immune defense can be corrupted.
Chemists hope a new variant of vancomycin that contains buckyballs — tiny cage-shaped molecules of pure carbon — could become the world’s first targeted antibiotic, creating a new line of defense against bioweapons like anthrax. Vancomycin, which entered clinical service 40 years ago, is the antibiotic of last resort, given only when all others fail. Unfortunately, vancomycin-resistant strains of bacteria have appeared in recent years.
Faced with the possible threat by North Korea of a nuclear warhead reaching the United States, senior Pentagon officials told the House Armed Services Committee March 20 they are moving forward with a billion-dollar missile defense system. “We have achieved a number of successes in the missile defense test program, which have added momentum to the development effort and bolstered our confidence that we will be able to meet the challenges that lie ahead,” Edward E. “Pete” Aldridge Jr., undersecretary of defense acquisition, technology and logistics, told the committee.
The Department of Defense (DoD) today announced plans to award $15.7 million to 18 academic institutions in 14 states to perform research in science and engineering fields important to national defense. Thirty-one projects were competitively selected under the fiscal 2003 Defense Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (DEPSCoR). The average award will be approximately $500,000.
The current method of handling the remains of U.S. service members will remain in place, DoD officials said today.
Senior defense officials examined the policy of handling human remains contaminated by biological or chemical weapons. They wanted to be certain that all options were open to commanders to ensure the health and safety of all service members. The group ? which included representatives from the services, the Army’s mortuary affairs, DoD’s health affairs and DoD’s personnel and readiness staffs ? wanted to ensure that any decision was based on the latest medical thinking.
The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) and Defense MicroElectronics Activity (DMEA) along with three University of California campuses have established a new Center for Nanoscience Innovation for Defense, to get university advances in the nanosciences into defense contractors’ hands as soon as possible.