Although biotechnology has the potential to cure and prevent disease, it has the ability to kill large number of people. Here at Gattaga, we have developed the following products to help combat these deadly weapons. We can now vaccinate against the "Ethno-bomb" and detect biological threats from long range.
One of most cutting edge new advances our company has added to the field of biological warfare is the engineering of a vaccine to weapon colloquially dubbed the "Ethno-Bomb" in the late 20th Century. Working on the premise of ethnic-related differences in an important immune system molecule called the major histocompatibility complex molecule type II (MHC), this weapon in the hands of a madman threatened any and every ethnicity of the known free world. Thanks to our company, however, the world can sleep knowing that they can't be the target of a biological hate crime.
Usually, an individual's MHC is used to ward of a virulent infection. After immune cells called phagocytes digest and dissect a foreign invader, they take a piece of it and post it on its surface, like a warning flag. This action is the triggering point in an immune-system response. The key to parading this flag to the rest of the body is the specialized MHC molecule. However, the MHC molecule itself has different subtypes that differ among different ethnicities and in some cases, create a bias towards a certain malady or illness. Variations in the MHC subtype have been linked to differing probabilities of viral hepatitis and HIV. In addition, the MHC factor is the reason for ankylosing spondylitis, a fusion of the joints and bones of the spine together, to be more common in Caucasians than in Orientals. Now, due to our vaccine, no ethnic group can be targeted simply because they possess a unique molecule that has adapted to their geographic location and lifestyle.
A primary concern of Americans in the modern world is the need to quickly and reliably detect biological weapons whether in battle or in a civilian environment. As a result, our research and development teams have designed and manufactured numerous methods for detecting these minute killers. One such method with enormous potential is called hyperspectral imaging. This technique has already been used to scan crops for diseases from a distance and to aid in the search for certain minerals. Hyperspectral imaging also has the amazing potential to be able to detect bioagents all the way from space. This amazing technology is based on a simple feature of all matter: electrons, the tiny particles orbiting the center of an atom, restrict the amount of energy in a beam of light that it can absorb. When the atoms reflect light, there are patterns that reveal exactly what the substance is. Such a versatile system of detection could be used from any part of the earth and to detect biological agents in the air.
Light detection and ranging offers another equally powerful detection tool. Known as LIDAR for short, it uses the same theory as radar to detect objects from a distance and has already been successful in detecting holes in the ozone layer from satellites in space. Differential LIDAR, the technique with the most promise in biohazard detection, involves sending two pulses of differing wavelengths of light. One wavelength is calibrated to be absorbed by a bioagent while the other is not. By closely studying the light reflections, a cloud of gas can be revealed as anthrax or as nothing more than water vapor.
In a world where terrorists use grain-sized spores to kill thousands of people, scientists are finally developing a weapon to fight back on the same scale. Extremely minute pieces of porous silicon, called smart chips, might sound like something you have lying around in the corners of your house. But these chips have a twist: they are designed to physically bind to a specific compound, be it individual molecules of sarin gas in the air or anthrax in a water supply. An important feature of the smart chips that makes them an even greater ally is the ability to scan for them using only a simple laser. A strong enough laser allows the military to scan an area for biological weapons from safety kilometers away.
An important aspect a biological detector needs in combat is the ability to get reliable results quickly. An automated biological weapons detection system being developed will provide all of that and more. Designed to be light enough to fit in an airplane, this system provides detection for biological weapons anywhere and without false alarms.
The way this system works starts with the basic motion of air running by the moving plane. As it does so, the plane's movement pushes the air into a column of water. This creates a spinning action designed to trap airborne bacteria. Every five minutes, this automated system pumps the water past antibodies attached to optical fibers designed to stick to the bacterium. After the water is pumped out, an engineered fluorescent antibody is released to stick to any bacterium caught by the probe. If there is any bacterium present, the fluorescent antibody sticks to it and the light emitted in the chamber will excite the antibody enough to glow in response. The signal then returns through the optical fiber and reports positive to the presence of biological weapons. The use of antibodies that you or I might have in our immune system makes it a unit of the utmost reliability. There were no false alarms even when the system was tested with harmless simulant bacteria.
Please see the additional resources and links sections for more information on this topic.
Hide and seek.[Electronic version] The Economist 28 Nov. 2002: Unknown.
Robinson, Kevin. Sensors Detect Biological Weapons. [Electronic version] Photonics Spectra Jan. 1999: Unknown.
Desai, Ketan. (2004, August 10). Ethnic cleansing with biological weapons: How terrorists can really attack us. Retrieved August 29, 2004, from http://www.freerepublic.comfocus/f-news/1188520/posts
Hurlbert, Dr. R. E. (2000, March 1). Microbiology 101 Internet Text. Retrieved
August 29, 2004, from http://www.slic2.wsu.edu:82/hurlbert/micro101/pages/
Weber, Mark. Israel is Developing 'Ethnic Bomb' for Growing Biological Weapons Arsenal. [Electronic Version] Journal of Historical Review. Dec. 1998: 24-25.
NASS. (2001). What does ankylosing spondylitis mean? Retrieved August 29, 2004, from http://www.nass.co.uk/questions.htm