Author(s): Hilleman MR
Abstract Share this page
Abstract Bioweaponry is rooted in the ancient past. It became a science in the early 20th century following the breakthrough discoveries in microbiology and immunology of the late 1800s. The 20th century, with its major and minor wars, saw the research and development of biological weapons capable of immense destruction of life, which were used both by nations in preparation for military warfare and by individuals who engage in asymmetric warfare. Treaties, international agreements, and political pursuits have not been able either to control or to rid the world of bioweapons. The tools for specific defense against bioweapons consist of vaccines against both viruses and bacteria, and of antibiotics and drugs against bacteria. Vaccines and antimicrobials are of limited usefulness because of the large number of possible microbes that can be used for weapons, because of antimicrobial resistance to drugs and antibiotics, and because of limitations in technical feasibility for developing vaccines and antibacterials against certain of the agents. Induction of non-specific innate immunity by immunostimulatory vaccines (at one time licensed) needs to be explored for possible immunoprophylactic-therapeutic activity when administered immediately following exposure to bioweapon pathogens. The ideal solution to the bioweapons problem lies in measures to end their development and application throughout the world. Emphasis was made at the recent World Economic Forum of the need to end poverty and hunger in the world as a means to reduce the incentive to engage in warfare. Added to this is betterment of health, focused mainly on preventable diseases. A further solution to the problem may lie in the development of modern robotic systems for rapid forensic detection of development and production of bioweapons by "rogue" nations and even by individuals. This review deals with the specifics of the development of bioweapons and their control by vaccines, by therapy with antibacterials, by non-specific immunostimulants, by advanced systems for detection of development and deployment of biological agents of destruction, and by political and health-giving initiatives. Copyright 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd.
This article was published in Vaccine
and referenced in Journal of Bioprocessing & Biotechniques