News Highlights

Biology's Brave New World

Nov/Dec 2013The Promise and Perils of the Synbio Revolution... Venter’s team predicted that as the cost of synthetic biology continued to drop, interest in the field would increase, and the ethical and practical concerns it raised would come increasingly to the fore. They were even more prescient than they guessed. Combined with breakthroughs in another area of biology, “gain-of-function” (GOF) research, the synthetic genomics field has spawned a dizzying array of new possibilities, challenges, and national security threats.

Q&A: Richard Webby of the WHO on the new deadly flu strain

21 Oct 2013 — Last spring, on April 9, 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) raised its Emergency Operations Center to Level II, the second-highest alert level. The Chinese government reported increasing numbers of humans falling dangerously ill due to a powerful new flu strain, H7N9, that had never been seen before in animals. By the end of June there were at least 132 confirmed cases, including 43 deaths.

As the Hajj Unfolds in Saudi Arabia, A Deep Look Inside the Battle Against MERS

16 October 2013 – For more than a year, Saudi Arabia has struggled to control the new disease MERS. Now, with millions of Muslim pilgrims descending on the country, the challenge will get that much tougher... In the sci-fi thriller Contagion, a new virus emerges from wildlife and jumps into human beings, wreaking havoc around the world. Millions die and society all but shuts down. The plot is frightening because it’s realistic—there are viruses out there in the animal population that, with the right genetic mutation, can jump the species barrier and infect us.

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