International Council for the Life Sciences (ICLS)

International Council for the Life Sciences (ICLS) The mission of ICLS is to help ensure global public health, safety and security by safeguarding the opportunities offered by advances in the life sciences and their application through the promotion of best practices, standards and codes of conduct.

SynBioBeta are offering introductory courses on synthetic biology in the UK and US.  http://synbiobeta.com/courses/
09/05/2013
Synbiobeta.com - Courses

SynBioBeta are offering introductory courses on synthetic biology in the UK and US.
http://synbiobeta.com/courses/

Courses Courses: An Introduction to Synthetic Biology Contact:For questions about the course, please email [email protected], or call (650) 549-4722.Receive new course dates:Email: Name: var err_style = ''; try{ err_style = mc_custom_error_style; } catch(e){ err_style = '#mc_embed_s...

08/22/2013
Influenza Viruses: Breaking All the Rules

A paper from the American Society of Microbiology's online publication mBio on DURC issues surrounding Influenza A virus (IAV) research. In particular, while addressing the potential costs and benefits of such research, it stresses the known costs of inaction:
http://mbio.asm.org/content/4/4/e00365-13.full?goback=%2Egde_4429892_member_265145501#%21

Influenza A viruses (IAV) are significant pathogens able to repeatedly switch hosts to infect multiple avian and mammalian species, including humans. The unpredictability of IAV evolution and interspecies movement creates continual public health challenges, such as the emergence of the 2009 pandemic...

A study published in Nature suggests that H7N9 passed from migratory birds to domesticated waterfowl to poultry and then...
08/22/2013
Study Reports Ducks Responsible for the Bird Flu In China

A study published in Nature suggests that H7N9 passed from migratory birds to domesticated waterfowl to poultry and thence to humans. The study also notes that this reservoir has a number of H7 flu viruses which could evolve into threats to humans:
http://www.counselheal.com/articles/6448/20130821/study-reports-ducks-responsible-bird-flu-china.htm

Researchers reported that ducks acted as hosts for the bird flu before it infected poultry and then humans.

Here's a fascinating report on common signatures for cancers, identified from over 7000 genomes of cancer patients from ...
08/14/2013
Gene study uncovers origins of many common cancers

Here's a fascinating report on common signatures for cancers, identified from over 7000 genomes of cancer patients from around the world. In addition to identifying a number of signatures, the research also established a link between aging and most of the cancers covered, and between viral infection and activation of a family of enzymes (APOBECs) which induce DNA mutations and are associated with half of the cancers studied:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/14/us-cancer-gene-signatures-idUSBRE97D0ZT20130814

LONDON (Reuters) - Researchers in Britain have set out the first comprehensive map of mutational processes behind the development of tumors - work that should in future lead to better ways to treat and

08/12/2013
Exome - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For those who, like I did, have to refresh their memories as to what an exome is, it is the part of the genome formed by exons, the sequences which when transcribed remain within the mature RNA after introns are removed by RNA splicing. Though comprising a very small fraction of the genome, mutations in the exome are thought to harbor 85% of disease-causing mutations. See below for a bit more detail:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exome

The exome is the part of the genome formed by exons, the sequences which when transcribed remain within the mature RNA after introns are removed by RNA splicing. It differs from a transcriptome in that it consists of all DNA that is transcribed into mature RNA in cells of any type. The exome of the…

08/12/2013
Extra Oversight for H7N9 Experiments

Here is the announcement of the extra levels of biosafety and biosecurity scrutiny being required by the US government for federally-funded gain of function research on flu strains:
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2013/08/07/science.1244158.full

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announces a new review process for certain gain-of-function (GOF) experiments with the avian influenza A (H7N9) virus, some of which are proposed this week by influenza scientists. Specifically, before being undertaken using funds from the HHS,…

08/08/2013
http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/aerosols/pdfs/aerosol_101.pdf

Here is a presentation by Paul Baron at the NIOSH/CDC on the behaviour of aerosols. It is a must read for anyone working in biological laboratories or production facilities. Indeed, it is of considerable relevance to healthy living at home too:

http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/aerosols/pdfs/aerosol_101.pdf

Within the flu research world, the gain of function debate continues to rage.  Fouchier and others now want to do gain o...
08/08/2013
Flu researchers propose controversial 'gain-of-function' studies for H7N9 virus

Within the flu research world, the gain of function debate continues to rage. Fouchier and others now want to do gain of function work on H7N9:

http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/flu-researchers-propose-controversial-gain-of-function-studies-for-h7n9-virus-1.1401836

An elite group of influenza scientists has announced it wants to do controversial gain-of-function research on the new H7N9 bird flu virus that emerged this spring in China.

Here's a (commercial) announcement of a training kit for first responders having to do field assays of presumed dangerou...
08/07/2013
The NIDS® Universal Training Assay (UTA) for First Responders

Here's a (commercial) announcement of a training kit for first responders having to do field assays of presumed dangerous white powders, with an emphasis on personal safety:
http://www.anptinc.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=176&Itemid=139&goback=%2Egde_2143039_member_260583896

ANP Technologies, Inc. is a nanobiotechnology company with cutting-edge technology platforms focused on: Specialty CRO for biological drug R&D, Biodefense and homeland security, Home/point-of-care diagnostic systems, and Nanotechnology-based drug delivery platforms

H7N9 human-human transmission reported in China with transmission from a sick father to his daughter who was caring for ...
08/07/2013
Bird flu 'passed between humans'

H7N9 human-human transmission reported in China with transmission from a sick father to his daughter who was caring for him. The father attended a poultry market, the daughter had not had contact with birds, and tests showed that the virus was virtually identical genetically - both facts supporting the human-human transmission conclusion. Both died, so no apparent attenuation of the pathology as a result of the change in transmissibility:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-23594392

Researchers report the first case of human-to-human transmission of the new bird flu strain that has emerged in China.

Thanks to Brett Edwards for posting this non-Western take on the dual-use research of concern debate.  I have long argue...
08/04/2013
Developing Countries and the Dual-Use Debate – Why the Fuss?

Thanks to Brett Edwards for posting this non-Western take on the dual-use research of concern debate. I have long argued that trying to impose Western standards on diagnostic or research labs in lower resource environments where priorities are considerably different can, in itself, be highly unethical. We cannot stop physicians and researchers in, say, Africa from doing research on endemic diseases which present big threats to their public health simply because they do not have lab facilities built to the standards required by Western legislation. And if these diseases are caused by pathogens on the Select Agent or other lists, so what? The emphasis should be on enabling them to do what they must with what they have as safely, securely and responsibly as possible.

http://biochemsec2030.org/2013/08/01/developing-countries-and-the-dual-use-debate-why-the-fuss/

Dr Louise Bezuidenhout who completed her PhD on dual-use ethics in Africa discusses the significance of dual-use issues in an international context. Louise outlines her perspectives on exportatio...

If I am reading this study correctly, environmental change is a key factor in maintaining biodiversity in rapidly evolvi...
08/04/2013
Study shows influence of temporal niches in maintaining biodiversity

If I am reading this study correctly, environmental change is a key factor in maintaining biodiversity in rapidly evolving bacteria populations. A very interesting, if unsurprising, conclusion:

http://phys.org/news/2013-07-temporal-niches-biodiversity.html

By studying rapidly evolving bacteria as they diversify and compete under varying environmental conditions, researchers have shown that temporal niches are important to maintaining biodiversity in natural systems. The research is believed to be the first experimental demonstration of temporal niche…

It is interesting that in the US, litigating law firms seem to be a leading source of information on food poisoning outb...
08/03/2013
Food Poison Journal | Food Policy & Safety | Marler Clark Law Firm

It is interesting that in the US, litigating law firms seem to be a leading source of information on food poisoning outbreaks. The previous bulletin posted below came from one firm. Here is another law firm's web site posing as the Food Poison Journal. Whatever, it has useful news about ongoing outbreaks and, under the Topics tag, a number of very useful resources and reference materials:

http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com

Food Poison Journal published by Marler Clark covers food poisoning updates, product liability, unsafe food, prevention, outbreaks & illness.

As the number of chain restaurants increase and their sourcing of food and pre-packaged food becomes ever more internati...
08/03/2013
Pritzker Olsen Files Cyclospora Suit Against Olive Garen Parent

As the number of chain restaurants increase and their sourcing of food and pre-packaged food becomes ever more internationalized and inter-connected, we can expect more cases like the current one in the US with cyclospora.

The Olive Garden and Red Lobster chains of restaurants are both owned by Darden Restaurants, who also own the LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V's and Yard House chains. Fortunately, it seems according to the FDA, the salad was not served in all these different chains, being served only in Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants. The FDA says the salad was sourced from Taylor Farms de Mexico.

Bactrim is the treatment for cyclospora infection:

http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/pritzker-olsen-files-cyclospora-suit-against-olive-garen-parent/

Pritzker Olsen, a national food safety law firm, filed the first lawsuit in connection with Cyclospora outbreak today on behalf of a Texas woman who alleges that she fell with Cyclosporiasis after ...

Thanks again to Heather for this one, on a new anti-microbial which seems to be effective against multi-resistant strain...
08/03/2013
Novel Class of Antimicrobials Shown Effective for NDM-1 Strains | Global Biodefense

Thanks again to Heather for this one, on a new anti-microbial which seems to be effective against multi-resistant strains and to be useful against biofilms and fungal infections:

http://globalbiodefense.com/2013/08/02/novel-class-of-antimicrobials-shown-effective-for-ndm-1-strains/

Lakewood-Amedex Inc., a leading developer of novel anti-infective pharmaceuticals, this week announced that a recent series of in vitro studies conducted by ImQuest BioSciences of Fredrick, MD, have demonstrated that its novel class of antimicrobials, named bisphosphocins, have proven effective at k...

Here's an interesting study on how human commuting behaviour affects the spread of pandemics.  I particularly like the s...
08/02/2013
The price of anarchy: How contagion spreads

Here's an interesting study on how human commuting behaviour affects the spread of pandemics.

I particularly like the summary of someone not directly involved in the study, Alessandro Vespignani of Northeastern University in Boston, who called it an interesting contribution to scientists' understanding of social behavior and of how people adapt to learning of an epidemic. Still, "many elements of realism are still missing in the modeling approaches," Vespignani cautioned. More studies are needed "to fully understand the effects of behavioral reactions in the spreading of large-scale epidemics"

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/08/01/price-anarchy-how-contagion-spreads/?goback=%2Egde_2143039_member_262615231#ixzz2aoxyXZLV

During infectious disease outbreaks, personal freedom comes at a price: the welfare of the public as a whole, a new study finds.

The American Biological Safety Association has launched a new accreditation process for BSL3 labs not (NOT) working on p...
08/02/2013
ABSA - ABSA High Containment Laboratory Accreditation Program

The American Biological Safety Association has launched a new accreditation process for BSL3 labs not (NOT) working on pathogens from the Select Agents and Toxins List:
http://www.absa.org/aiahclap.html

The American Biological Safety Association's (ABSA) Laboratory Accreditation program was developed for U.S. Biosafety Level (BSL) 3 and animal biosafety level (ABSL)-3 laboratories. The purpose of the ABSA accreditation program is to ensure that biocontainment facilities have in place the necessary…

Some lighter reading on the advantages of cooperation over selfishness.  On a more serious note, while there is a consid...
08/01/2013
Why you SHOULD give away your last chocolate: Selfish people 'will eventually die out' because...

Some lighter reading on the advantages of cooperation over selfishness.

On a more serious note, while there is a considerable amount of evidence on the benefit of cooperation, I do dislike the way this article takes the results of games, which are at best gross simplifications of the real world, and draws firm conclusions about evolution in the real world wiping out selfishness. It is one thing to say that cooperation is necessary to survive and confers an advantage, it is entirely another to deduce from that that over time selfishness must, perforce, be evolved away:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2382017/Selfish-people-eventually-die-evolution-favours-cooperation.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

Researchers at Michigan State University found that selfishness will eventually disappear as a personality trait because evolution favours cooperation.

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