Follow us:

Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

January 9, 2008 at 5:37 PM

Defense against bio threats could be boon for biotech industry

The U.S. biotech industry could help shore up the country’s defenses against bioterrorism and other biological threats, while at the same time obtaining lucrative government contracts, U.S. officials said at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference Wednesday.

The White House established task forces to deal with bio-hazards in the wake of anthrax attacks that occurred in October 2001. While initially the government effort focused on man-made biological threats, the appearance of SARS and the Asian flu virus prompted authorities to broaden their vigilance, said Rajeev Venkayya, a former White House advisor on biohazards.

Measures include funding for developing and stockpiling vaccines and treatments, said Brian Kamoie, a top official with the Department of Health and Human Services. Approximately $2 billion has been assigned in contracts and other funding, he said.

Big Pharma companies have stayed away from the program – known as Project Bioshield – because its initial emphasis was on the acquisition of already-developed products. But recent legislation has enabled government agencies directing the program to devote more incentives to the development of counter-measures to biological threats.

While the biotech revolution can provide a response to some hazards, it can also be the source of new threats, Venkayya said. Within five to ten years, he predicted, terrorists could be using biotech tools “to turn a bad bug into a really bad bug.”

Comments

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►