Updates

Stopping Fentanyl at the Border: Can Chemical Detectors Help?

Large quantities of the synthetic drug fentanyl flow into the country at ports of entry along the Southwest border, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency. As this drug drives a nationwide overdose epidemic, law enforcement agencies are considering technologies that might help stem the flow. Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have tested whether a chemical detection technology called ion mobility spectrometry can be used to screen vehicles for fentanyl.

Preparing Children With Special Healthcare Needs for an Emergency

Having children with special healthcare needs means that parents must think ahead, plan ahead, and prepare their children for an emergency where they may not be with them, or where they may not have access to the comforts of home and the routine they are used to. These are tips on preparing for an emergency, and how that emergency may impact transportation and reunification.

More People in the United States Dying From Antibiotic-Resistant Infections Than Previously Estimated

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its updated Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States Report (AR Threats Report), which shows that there were nearly twice as many annual deaths from antibiotic-resistant infections as CDC originally reported in 2013. CDC’s 2019 report establishes a new national baseline of infections and deaths from antibiotic-resistant germs. The new report categorizes the top antibiotic-resistant threats based on level of concern to human health: urgent, serious, or concerning.

FDA Issues Final Guidance for Development of Smallpox Treatments as Part of Critical Preparedness Efforts

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued final guidance, “Smallpox (Variola Virus) Infection: Developing Drugs for Treatment or Prevention,” which is designed to assist drug manufacturers designing studies to appropriately establish the safety and efficacy of drugs to treat or prevent smallpox infection. Although smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980, concerns exist that it could remain in unknown locations or be used as a biological weapon.

Gene Editors Could Find New Use as Rapid Detectors of Pathogenic Threats

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) newest biotechnology funding opportunity aims to incorporate gene editors into detectors for distributed health biosurveillance and rapid, point-of-need diagnostics for endemic, emerging, and engineered pathogenic threats. The goal of the “Detect It with Gene Editing Technologies” (DIGET) program is to provide comprehensive, specific, and trusted information about health threats to medical decision-makers within minutes. This will prevent the spread of disease, enable timely deployment of countermeasures, and improve the standard of care after diagnosis.

HHS Advances Development of Tests to Distinguish Bacterial From Viral Infections Across Multiple Healthcare Settings

A novel diagnostics technology will receive advanced development support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This technology reads gene expression patterns in the immune system to distinguish bacterial infections from viral infections and determines the severity within minutes. Rapid information on whether an infection is viral versus bacterial will help doctors make earlier, better-informed decisions about whether to treat the infection with or without antibiotics.

WHO Prequalifies Ebola Vaccine, Paving the Way for Its Use in High-Risk Countries

The World Health Organization (WHO) prequalified an Ebola vaccine for the first time, a critical step that will help speed up its licensing, access, and roll-out in countries most at risk of Ebola outbreaks. United Nations agencies and the Vaccine Alliance can procure the vaccine for at-risk countries based on this WHO recommendation.

U.S. Border Patrol Agents Leverage Emerging S&T Tech to Ensure the Security of Our Nation’s Borders

To help address border security and ensure United States Border Patrol (USBP) agents can perform their job both safely and effectively, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) recently collaborated with the USBP and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers to deliver a multi-part solution by implementing innovative tools and capabilities that enable USBP agents to leverage the knowledge, skills, and abilities of expert trackers and use emerging technologies to maximize their tracking performance.

HHS to Advance Development of Cytovale Rapid Sepsis Diagnostic

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will partner with Cytovale of San Francisco, to advance the development of a test that may be able to diagnose sepsis in less than 10 minutes. Sepsis could pose an even greater health security threat in a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear emergency, or as a complication of an influenza pandemic or other emerging infectious disease outbreak.

Preparing for the Consequences of a Chemical Attack

With the very real possibility of a chemical attack in public, the United States needs to be prepared to take appropriate action to save lives. The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate has developed a suite of models to help federal agencies analyze threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences of potential attacks to prioritize resources for the most effective defense and response.