Federation of American Scientists Case Studies in Dual Use Biological Research Module 3.0: Aerosol Delivery Case Study
Topic: Implications Subtopic: The Dual Use Question

There is no question that porous particle technology holds tremendous promise for improving drug inhalants, however, by designing a means to circumvent the respiratory systemís natural defenses, this technological advance also presents a classic dual-use dilemma. For example, facilitating deep lung penetration of anthrax spores would increase their lethality by ensuring that more spores make it deep into the lungs. Inhaled aerosols can likewise transmit the pathogens for pneumonic plague, tularemia, Q fever, smallpox, viral encephalitis, viral hemorrhagic fevers, and botulism, to name a few. The implications are more serious since we know from the anthrax attacks in 2001 that some of the victims who succumbed to inhalation anthrax had been exposed to a much lower dose than past research had indicated necessary to cause disease.

Though much attention by policymakers has been directed at research with select agents and pathogens, other technological advances can clearly lower the barriers to bioweapons development and use. Following the 2001 anthrax attacks, Edwards recognized the existing opportunity to "reverse engineer" an inhaled drug delivery system and increase terrorist ability to bypass natural defenses.

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Topic History Asthma and Aerosolized Medicines Designing Porous Particles Implications Discussion References Home