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July 2018 News Round Up

News:

Ricin recovered from apartment in Cologne, Germany A homemade batch of the deadly toxin ricin was found in a Tunisian national’s apartment in Germany, prosecutors said Thursday. A written statement said a 29-year-old — identified only as Sief Allah H. — was arrested on Tuesday night on suspicion on violating the country’s War Weapons Control Act.
Syria’s chemical attacks: Smoke and mirrors, truth and lies Seen as one of the most contentious aspects of the Syrian war, the alleged use of chemical weapons has alternately shocked and confused media outlets and consumers alike.
UK calls for more chemical weapons powers The special session of the Conference of States Parties in The Hague has today agreed that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will immediately start work to help identify those responsible for chemical attacks in Syria.
Evidence “shoddy” in Kim Jong-un half-brother murder trial Evidence against two women facing the death penalty for killing the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was described as having “doubts and gaps that stood out like a sore thumb” by defence lawyers as they laid out their closing arguments in Malaysia’s high court on Wednesday.
Body and hazardous substances found in Fetcham home A man’s body and hazardous substances have been found in a house in Surrey after reports of “strong smells”. Police were called to a home in Elmer Mews, Fetcham, on Wednesday evening, after reports there were concerns over safety and found the body of a man in his 20s.
Amesbury: Two collapse near Russian spy poisoning site A man and woman are in a critical condition after being exposed to an unknown substance, which counter terrorism officers are investigating.
OPCW Issues Fact-Finding Mission Reports on Chemical Weapons Use Allegations in Douma, Syria in 2018 and in Al-Hamadaniya and Karm Al-Tarrab in 2016 THE HAGUE, Netherlands —6 July 2018—The Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), issued an interim report on the FFM’s investigation to date regarding the allegations of chemical weapons use in Douma, Syria on 7 April 2018.
Emerging sex disease MG ‘could become next superbug’ A little known sexually transmitted infection could become the next superbug unless people become more vigilant, experts are warning. Mycoplasma genitalium (MG) often has no symptoms but can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, which can leave some women infertile.
Novichok: Why nerve agent stays deadly for so long Police have said they believe Novichok could remain a threat for up to 50 years if left in a sealed container. What do we know about how long the nerve agent poses a danger?
Amesbury: Novichok found in perfume bottle, says victim’s brother The nerve agent that poisoned two people in Wiltshire was contained inside a perfume bottle, according to the brother of one of the victims.
Blast in Chinese chemical plant kills 19, injures 12 An explosion at a chemical plant in China has killed 19 people and injured 12, the local government said on Friday, the latest deadly industrial incident in the world’s largest producer of chemicals.
On third anniversary, survival of Iran nuclear deal in question Exactly three years after Tehran signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – also known as the Iran nuclear deal – with China, France, Germany, Russia, UK, the US and the European Union, the survival of the hard-fought pact is in question following Washington’s withdrawal in May.

Technology:

New antibiotic shows long-lasting promise as superbug killer Purdue University researchers have identified a new compound that in preliminary testing has shown itself to be as effective as antibiotics approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat life-threatening infections while also appearing to be less susceptible to bacterial resistance.
First new antiviral to treat the flu in nearly 20 years given priority status by FDA Roche, today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accepted a New Drug Application (NDA) and granted Priority Review for baloxavir marboxil as a single-dose, oral treatment for acute, uncomplicated influenza in patients 12 years and older.
Smartphone-based nerve gas detector made from Lego bricks Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have designed a way to sense dangerous chemicals using, in part, a simple rig consisting of a smartphone and a box made from Lego bricks, which could help first responders and scientists in the field identify deadly and difficult-to-detect nerve agents such as VX and sarin.
Promising HIV vaccine moves to wider human trials Finding a vaccine to protect people from HIV has been the holy grail of HIV/AIDS research for decades. Most attempts have failed because the virus is able to rapidly mutate, rendering most vaccines ineffective.
Landmark Australian trial wipes out 80 per cent of disease-spreading mosquitoes
In an international partnership between CSIRO, Verily and James Cook University, scientists used specialised technology to release millions of sterilised male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes across the Cassowary Coast in Queensland in a bid to combat the global pest.
Low-cost device rapidly detects mosquito-borne viruses A startup created by Purdue University professors is developing a sensor that can detect dangerous mosquito-borne tropical diseases faster and at a lower cost than current methods, giving health officials time to take action before the viruses are transmitted to humans.

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