Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Remembering the anthrax attack

Glenn Greenwald's March 4, 2009 Salon article on Representative Rush Holt's bill and the ramifications of the anthrax attack is a must-read. Great links. Here is an excerpt:

The ultimate establishment organ, The Washington Post Editorial Page, issued numerous editorials expressing serious doubts about the FBI's case against Ivins and called for an independent investigation. The New York Times Editorial Page echoed those views. Even The Wall St. Journal Editorial Page, citing the FBI's "so long and so many missteps," argued that "independent parties need to review all the evidence, especially the scientific forensics" and concluded that "this is an opportunity for Congress to conduct legitimate oversight."
In the wake of the FBI's accusations against Ivins, the science journal Nature flatly declared in its editorial headline -- "Case Not Closed" -- and demanded an independent investigation into the FBI's case. After the FBI publicly disclosed some of its evidence against Ivins, The New York Times reported "growing doubts from scientists about the strength of the government's case." The Baltimore Sun detailed that "scientists and legal experts criticized the strength of the case and cast doubt on whether it could have succeeded." Dr. Alan Pearson, Director of the Biological and Chemical Weapons Control Program at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation -- representative of numerous experts in the field -- expressed many of those scientific doubts and demanded a full investigation.
There may be legitimate grounds for doubting whether an independent, 9/11-type Commission of the type Holt proposes is the ideal tribunal to conduct a real investigation, but it is clearly the best of all the realistic options. The only other plausible alternative -- an investigation by Congress itself -- is far inferior, as anyone who has observed any so-called "Congressional investigation" over the last decade should immediately recognize (here, as but one example, is the account I wrote about a House hearing last September attempting -- with cringe-inducing ineptitude and total futility -- to "grill" FBI Director Robert Mueller about the FBI's case against Ivins). How effective an independent investigative Commission like this will be will depend on the details of its structure -- its subpoena powers, punishments for defiance, and the independence of its members. That Rush Holt will play a key role, if not the key role, in overseeing its creation is a reassuring feature that the bill he introduced can be actually productive.


Ellen Byrne said...

Thank you, Glenn Greenwald, Thank you, Meryl Nass.

Anonymous said...

Holt video

Rep. Holt makes a strong case.

Anonymous said...

On what dates did Bruce Ivins use the virulent Ames spores for research funded by a grant by U.S. Army Research and Development Command (DARPA) MDA 972-97-1-0007?

The grant award was titled "‘Nanomolecule Based Agents for Pathogen Counter Measure." The original budget 3/1997 - 2/28/2002 was $10,890,561.

Anonymous said...

The co-inventor of the MICRODROPLET CELL CULTURE TECHNIQUE with leading anthrax scientist Alibek and former deputy USAMRIID Commander Bailey was the leading aerosol scientist in the world.

As previously described,the co-inventors of the MICRODROPLET CELL CULTURE TECHNIQUE include the leading anthrax scientist Alibek and former deputy US Commander Bailey, the two colleagues at the DARPA-funded Center for Biodefense who were 15-feet -- in the same suite -- as Taliban supporter Ali Al-Timimi.

Initially, however, the first named co-inventor in 2001 patent titled MICRODROPLET CELL CULTURE TECHNIQUE was from Al-Timimi's university the year before, at George Washington University. He was a leading aerosol scientist and wrote the first definitive text on potential of aerosol medications.

Dr. Shepherd is Founding Chairman of the Sabin Vaccine Institute. In addition, he is an Adjunct Professor at The George Washington University. Previously he was Chairman and CEO of a company he founded as Aerosol Techniques in 1955.

A world-recognized expert on aerosol medications, he holds several patents on aerosol products, and spearheaded the development of the metered dose inhaler. He led a successful effort to fund the nation's first research laboratory dedicated to aerosol pharmaceuticals at Columbia University College of Pharmacy. He is the author of Aerosols: Science and Technology, the first definitive text on the potential of aerosol medications.

Thus, the DARPA funded not only work on silica nanocomposite work for biological uses in 2001 but this microdroplet cell culture method that as previously explained permitted the concentration of anthrax.

It has been argued on this forum that Dr. Ivins did not have the time or space to use surface cultivation method.

DARPA funded researchers explained:

"On the negative side, surface cultivation of microorganisms is not amenable to large scale production. The process of filling and inoculating numerous individual plates or dishes with culture and then individually harvesting each plate is extremely labor intensive. Furthermore, the storage of solid surface plates or dishes inoculated with microorganisms requires significant allocations of space in sophisticated incubators.
It further has been argued on this forum that the fermenter did not work:

DARPA funded researchers including the leading anthrax scientist and a former Deputy USAMRIID Commander) explained:

"With the submerged method, a microorganism is cultured throughout the liquid media, Mutrients are absorbed from contact with the media surrounding the individual microorganisms, oxygen and other gasses are provided by various means aeration that one skilled in the art can readily appreciate, and metabolites seep out and into the media. Usually, the nutrient media is also stirred continually, in order to evenly distribute the microorganisms.

The submerged cultivation method does, however, require an extensive investment in equipment necessary for the large scale production of cell cultures. ...

Another major drawback to the large scale submerged cultivation method is the greater risk and effects of contamination that this method entails."

The DARPA-funded researchers including the leading anthrax scientist and a former Deputy USAMRIID Commander who were the colleagues of the other "anthrax weapons suspect" (which is his own lawyer's description) proposed a method that avoided these downsides.

"SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION It is therefore an object of the invention to provide for the growth of a microbe or cell culture with a hybrid method that both combines the beneficial features of submerged and surface cultivation while eliminating some of the negative features inherent in both procedures."

"According to the invention, cells are cultivated in a plurality of individual microdroplets of liquid media. These microdroplets are created by aerosolizing licuid media that has been inoculated with the cells of interest and coating theaerosolized droplets with hydrophobic particles of solid material, such as silicon dioxide, for example. The individual microdroplets are stabilized within the hydriophobic solid particles, thereby providing a large number of small cell culture reactors."

The DARPA-funded researchers (including the leading anthrax scientist and a former Deputy USAMRIID Commander who were the colleagues of the other "anthrax weapons suspect") continue:

"Once the microdroplets are formed and added to the coating vessel, dry hydrophobic powder composed of a plurality of particles of, for example, a hydrophobic ceramic, are introduced into the vessel where the coating process then occurs."

"The hydrophobic particles intercalate with and adhere to the individual microdroplets, preventing the microdroplets from becoming a confluent liquid, thereby creating a plurality of individual microdroplet cultures, each containing an isolated droplet of growing cells. The resulting product is a slurry-like material that has a semi liquid consistency, due to the fact that the individual microdroiplets are prevented from re-aggregating as a

confluent li-cuid. Once the coated hydrophobic
confluent liquid. Once the coated hydrophobic particles are formed, they are collected and removed through narrow slotted openings located at the bottom of the coating vessel. The coated microdroplets are then cultured either in a batch or continuous flow process."

The DARPA-funded researchers (including the leading anthrax scientist and a former Deputy USAMRIID Commander who were the colleagues of the other "anthrax weapons suspect") continue:

"In one embodiment of the invention, the inoculated media is converted into microdroplets prior to introduction into the coating vessel. Such a process is enabled by introducing the inoculated media via a spray nozzle that dispenses individual microdroplets into the vessel."

"The size of individual microdrioplets can be regulated by adjusting such factors as the size of the nozzle or portal delivering the liquid or aerosolized media, th

In one embodiment of the invention, the hydrophobic particles comprises a powder of silicon dioxide. It can readily be seen by one skilled in the art, however, that the hydrophobic particles can alternatively comprise other hydrophobic ceramic particlese volume of the vessel, the speed at which the various components are added, the power and frequency of electromagnetic induction (in one embodiment of the invention), and the type of hydrophobic particle utilized, for example."

"In one embodiment of the invention, the hydrophobic particles comprises a powder of silicon dioxide. It can readily be seen by one skilled in the art, however, that the hydrophobic particles can alternatively comprise other hydrophobic ceramic particles (e.g., possibly aluminum oxides and zinc oxides)." (Now ask: What about ferrous oxides? )

"In a particularly preferred embodiment, the silicon dioxide particle sare Aerosil 300, produced

by Brenntag N. V. of Belgium. In another preferred embodiment, the silicon dioxide particles are selected from the group comprising the AEROSIL series of powders manufactured by the Degussa-hüls Cor ? oration (i.., AEROSIL R 104, AEROSIL R 106, AEROSIL R 202, AEROSIL R 805, AEROSIL R 812, AEROSIL R812. S, AEROSIL R 972, AEROSIL R 974, and AEROSIL R. 8200). Other silicon dioxide particles are contemplated and within the scope of the invention."


"As can readily be appreciated by on the art, it will not always be necessary or preferable to separate the hydrophobic particles away from the liquid cell culture following cell growth. For example, since silicon dioxide is frequently utilized in soil treatment, there is no need to remove the silicon dioxide from cell 1 cultures that are grown for the purposes of soil treatment. Furthermore, since the hydrophobic particles limit the potential for the spread of contamination, it may be desirable to maintain cultivated cells within the individual hydrophobic microdroplets for storage purposes."


"Production of Vaccine Products.

The present invention is suitable to the large scale production of recombinant bacteria or tissue culture cells that have been genetically engineered to produce an antigen or antigens that are effective vaccine products. "

Did Dr. Ivins ever do work relating to this technique?

Did Ali Al-Timimi ever do work relating to this technique?

Anonymous said...

The co-authors did not just include a leading aerosol scientist, the leading anthrax scientist, and the former Deputy USAMRIID Commander.

Note that earlier vaccine research by the fourth co-author of that patent, an expert in anthrax biodefense, related to the potential of polymer microencapsulation technology for vaccine innovation. Thus, the expertise of all these highly experienced biodefense and vaccine experts was unwittingly delivered regularly to Ali Al-Timimi's fax and maildrop at the building housing the GMU Center for Biodefense.

A PhD thesis by Dr. Alibek's assistant, K. Crockett, is excellent. She also consulted with FBI anthrax aerosol expert William Patrick. She concluded that while the official public pronouncements in Amerithrax have vacillated on silica, the method used may be a microencapsulation technique such as is used in drug delivery in avoiding destruction by enzymes before delivery to the target organ. It avoids the need for more expensive equipment (as explained in the above post).

From the co-author's 1994 abstract in Vaccine:
"Biodegradable polymer microspheres or microcapsules developed over the past decade for reliable, preprogrammed release of contraceptive steroids have significant potential for adaptation to antigen release for immunization. In addition, polymeric encapsulation of antigens could prevent the acid and enzymatic degradation that has been a barrier to the development of oral vaccines. ...
Microsphere technology has the potential benefits of reducing the number of inoculations, enhancing the immune response via both parenteral and oral vaccination routes, and in reducing the total antigen dose required to achieve immune protection."

One head of a military lab has told me that the "microdroplet cell culture" technique is precisely such a microencapsulation technique.

Anonymous said...

There is a post missing and this URL linking to the international patent (rather than the previously linked US patent) may serve to fill in the gap.

The referenced international patent including the additional applicants (an aerosol expert and an anthrax biodefense expert) is here:

Microdroplet Cell Culture Technique