Navigation Links
ASU receives 2-year, $5.3 million DARPA award to safeguard soldiers from infectious diseases

Scientists at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University have received a 2-year, $5.3 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to protect warfighters in the event of exposure to infectious diseases during deployment.

Dr. Stephen Albert Johnston and his colleagues at the Biodesign Institute have taken on a daunting test of skill: to develop a potential therapeutic that can protect soldiers against an unknown pathogenand do it in a week.

Any commercially available therapeutic typically requires about a decade or more to go from the benchtop to the marketplace. "Half of this period involves all the research and development of the therapeutic, the chemistry to make it, and so on," said Johnston, director of the Biodesign Institute's Center for Innovations in Medicine. "The other half is all the clinical trials testing and FDA approval." The group's goal will focus on reducing the front end of this processthe research and development phaseto just 7 days.

The DARPA challenge was extended to the research community as part of its Accelerated Critical Therapeutics program, a long-standing initiative in response to emerging and novel biological threats.

Johnston's research team has developed new technologies that could accomplish this seemingly impossible feat, drastically reducing the time necessary to produce a general agent against a disease-causing invader. In addition to benefiting the warfighter, his team's approach, involving the use of synthetic antibodies or synbodies, may ultimately find its way into a broad range of applications of benefit to the general public, including medical diagnostics and vaccine development and validation.

Like their human immune system counterparts, synbodies can chemically sniff out invasive microbes with very high specificity, binding with and neutralizing them. Synbodies against the selected pathogen can then be rapidly produced and stockpiled using high-throughput technologies. This assortment acts as a sort of master tool kit, enabling researchers to rapidly construct a custom-tailored therapeutic against virtually any disease-associated protein.

The group has calculated that around 10,000 randomly constructed synbody components, made from short protein fragments called peptides, would provide sufficient variety to target virtually any biological threat. For the DARPA test however, the pool of synbodies can be dramatically reduced. "Our idea is to screen a large library of possible pathogens, identifying a broad class of effective binders, said assistant research professor Chris Diehnelt. "We would then produce stocks of peptides to be kept waiting in the wings, so that when we have a live fire test, the unknown pathogen can be screened to identifying several low binding affinity peptides. These we will rapidly assemble into a synbody, targeting that pathogen specifically."

The first test of their technology will come after the group's initial year of DARPA-funded research, at which time, the group will be presented with a pathogen and required to generate an effective therapeutic within 14 days. The second year goal of the project aims to cut the production time in half. The team estimates that an assortment of just 100 random peptide chains will be sufficient to screen a broad range of pathogen threats, with the certainty of finding multiple low-affinity chains, suitable for use in synbodies.

Completion of the current project will open the door to a new approach in the development of therapeutics to conquer one of the major challenges to human health.


Contact: Joe Caspermeyer
Arizona State University

Related biology news :

1. U of I receives $1 million USDA grant to study Glossy15 in sorghum
2. UCSF receives $15 million to advance personalized medicine
3. Carnegie Mellon receives funding to create new program studying environmental impact of nanotechnology
4. Jefferson receives $3 million NIH grant to study molecular and genetic mechanisms in platelets
5. University of Maryland receives $1.9M from NSF for investigations of biomolecular structure
6. NYU School of Medicine receives $8.2M grant from NIDDK to continue urological disease research
7. University of Maryland School of Medicine receives $7.9 million grant for super research magnet
8. University of Maryland partnership receives $7.9M from NIH for superconducting research magnet
9. Stem cell, artificial liver research receives Coulter Foundation funding at NJIT
10. Case Western Reserve geneticist receives prestigious NIH Directors Pioneer Award
11. UC Riverside receives 6 grants for tobacco-related research
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
ASU receives 2-year, $5.3 million DARPA award to safeguard soldiers from infectious diseases
(Date:5/16/2017)... May 16, 2017   Bridge Patient Portal ... and MD EMR Systems , an electronic ... for GE, have established a partnership to build ... and the GE Centricity™ products, including Centricity Practice ... These new integrations will allow healthcare ...
(Date:4/18/2017)... 18, 2017  Socionext Inc., a global expert in SoC-based imaging ... server, the M820, which features the company,s hybrid codec technology. A ... Tera Probe, Inc., will be showcased during the upcoming Medtec Japan ... at the Las Vegas Convention Center April ... Click here for ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... , April 11, 2017 Crossmatch®, ... secure authentication solutions, today announced that it has ... Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) to develop next-generation ... program. "Innovation has been a driving ... Thor program will allow us to innovate and ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... 10, 2017 , ... San Diego-based team building and cooking events company, Lajollacooks4u, ... The bold new look is part of a transformation to increase awareness, appeal ... growth period. , It will also expand its service offering from its signature gourmet ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... For the second time ... US2020 STEM Mentoring Award. Representatives of the FirstHand program travelled to Washington, D.C. ... US2020. , US2020’s mission is to change the trajectory of STEM education in ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... International research firm Parks Associates announced today that ... TMA 2017 Annual Meeting , October 11 in Scottsdale, ... security market and how smart safety and security products impact the competitive ... Parks Associates: Smart Home Devices: Main ... "The residential security market has experienced continued ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... BARBARA, CALIFORNIA (PRWEB) , ... October 10, 2017 ... ... management, technological innovation and business process optimization firm for the life sciences and ... BoxWorks conference in San Francisco. , The presentation, “Automating GxP Validation ...
Breaking Biology Technology: