Thursday, June 18, 2009

Laboratory Says Security Is Tighter, but Earlier Count Missed Dangerous Vials/ Wash Post

Over 9,000 undocumented microbial samples turned up in Fort Detrick's three-month long inventory, completed last month. But that doesn't mean we have a problem with biosecurity at the Army labs, does it? Nor does it suggest a similar problem might exist at the many labs that have sprung up since 9/11 in the US Government-sponsored biosecurity cottage industry, does it? And why should Obama's nomination for the Department of Homeland Security bioterrorism czar worry about biosecurity at these labs?

I should have directed readers to Lew Weinstein's blog on the anthrax letters case and the subject of biosecurity long before. Lots of interesting material there.


lewweinstein said...

Thank you. LEW

Ross said...

Did the U of Mich researchers submit a sample of the Ames that Ivins supplied? LSU and U of Michigan were subpoenaed in mid-Oct 2001 after testing showed the mailed anthrax was Ames.
In patents, Tarek Hamouda and James R. Baker, Jr. thank Ivins for supplying them with Ames. In late Aug 2001, NanoBio relocated from a small office with 12 year-old furniture to an expanded office. DARPA asked for some of their product them to decontaminate some of the Senate offices. The company pitched hand cream to postal workers. The inventors company, NanoBio, was funded by DARPA. NanoBio got a $3,150,000 defense contract in 2003. Dr. Hamouda graduated Cairo Med in Dec 1982. Came to US in 1994 after finishing his microbiology PhD at Cairo Medica. TH presented in part at various listed meetings and conferences in 98 and 99.

The U of Mich authors thank:
Bruce Ivins, Patricia Fellows, Mara Linscott, Arthur Friedlander, and the staff of USAMRIID for their technical support and helpful suggestions in the performance of the initial anthrax studies.
Martin-Hugh-Jones, Kimothy Smith, and Pamela Coker for supplying the characterized B. anthracis strains and the space at Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge). The researchers found that their nanoemulsion incorporated into the growth medium completely inhibited the growth of the spores. (In 1999, Dr.Kimothy Smith moved to the Arizona lab, bringing with him the lab’s first samples of anthrax.”) The patent explained that “Diluted, they have a consistency and appearance similar to skim milk and can be sprayed to decontaminate surfaces or potentially interact with aerosolized spores before inhalation.”

A March 98 press release had provided some background to the novel DARPA-funded work. It was titled “Novavax Microbicides Undergoing Testing at University of Michigan Against Biological Warfare Agents; Novavax Technology Being Supplied to U.S. Military Program At University of Michigan as Possible Defense Against Germ Warfare.” "Various formulations are being tested as topical creams or sprays for nasal and environmental usage. The biocidal agent’s detergent degrades and then explodes the interior of the spore."

In a presentation at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) on September 26, 1998, Michael Hayes, a research associate in the U-Michigan Medical School, presented experimental evidence of BCTP’s ability to destroy anthrax spores both in a culture dish and in mice exposed to anthrax through a skin incision. “In his conference presentation, Hayes described how even low concentrations of BCTP killed more than 90 percent of virulent strains of Bacillus anthracis spores in a culture dish.”

Dr. Baker, by email, advised me that Ivins did the studies involving Ames for them at USAMRIID. He reports: “We never had Ames and could not have it at our UM facilities.” (Where did Michael Hayes do his research?)

An article in the Summer of 2000 in Medicine at Michigan explains: “Victory Site: Last December [December 1999] Tarek Hamouda, Amy Shih and Jim Baker traveled to a remote military station in the Utah desert. There they demonstrated for the U.S. Army Research and Development Command the amazing ability of non-toxic nanoemulsions (petite droplets of fat mixed with water and detergent) developed at Michigan to wipe out deadly anthrax-like bacterial spores.”

An April 2001 report described testing of decontamination agents at Dugway. Edgewood tested nanoemulsion biocidal agents during this time period, according to a national nanobiotechnology initiative report issued June 2002. APG/Edgewood built a Biolevel-3 facility in 2001. By Oct 02 had 19 virulent strains of anthrax, including Ames. A 96 report at Edgewood involved irradiated virulent Ames provided by J. Ezzell that was used in a soil suspension. Another article discusses Delta Ames supplied to Edgewood by the Battelle-managed Dugway, subtilis, and use of sheep blood agar. Did the U of M researchers supply a sample used in their research? How many morphs did it contain?

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

Shouldn't they have audited the sample taking from labs? Lehman Brothers had to have an audit every year. There was no audit of any lab's compliance with sample submission? The labs didn't even have to do their own internal audits and report those?

What about making them videotape all the places they keep microbes that are of the relevant danger? The FBI sent a letter and the labs mailed/sent their samples is that what happened?

They should have gone in person to 10 percent of the labs in the first place, and then gone in person to 10 percent after those labs sent samples. The labs they sent people to get samples should have included all the high profile ones.

Maybe at that time, they already "knew" who did it? The investigation at each date was tailored to who they knew did it that month? Looks like the FBI has its own "tailor rule".