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Arizona State University secures defense contract

TEMPE, Ariz. Arizona State University has been awarded a four-year contract from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency of the U.S. Department of Defense to develop a novel diagnostic technology called immunosignaturing for rapid detection of exposure to infectious disease agents before symptoms occur. This contract, with a cumulative value of $30,718,054, consists of a base period with 12 months of performance, valued at $9,057,732; and one option period with 36 months of performance, valued at $21,660,322.

Early detection saves lives by allowing rapid deployment of treatment and implementation of infection control measures to limit further spread, according to George Poste, chief scientist of the Complex Adaptive Systems Initiative at ASU.

Stephen Albert Johnston, co-director of the Center for Innovations in Medicine at ASU's Biodesign Institute, will lead the project. Johnston with co-principal investigators Poste and Neal Woodbury, co-director of the Center for Innovations in Medicine, will direct the effort to develop a silicon-chip based technology capable of detecting a broad range of infectious organisms based on their triggering the body to produce highly specific antibodies that are unique to each different infectious disease (the immunosignature).

Although this project seeks to develop a sophisticated and highly sensitive detection system to protect military personnel against bioterrorism, it is anticipated that immunosignature profiling will be equally valuable in creating a major advance in rapid detection of infectious and other disease in conventional medical settings.

Poste, a Regents' Professor and Del E. Webb Chair in Health Innovation, founded the Biodesign Institute at ASU before moving to establish the Complex Adaptive Systems Initiative, a research focus of the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development.

Johnston is a professor in the ASU School of Life Sciences and with Woodbury co-directs the Center for Innovations in Medicine, which is bringing together the multidisciplinary scientific teams to develop the immunosignature diagnostic technology as well as a prophylactic cancer vaccine and new classes of therapeutics and anti-infectives.

Woodbury is a professor in ASU's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and a senior scientist in ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability. In addition to co-directing the Center for Innovations in Medicine, he leads research efforts to develop molecular devices and nanoscale hybrid electronics as miniaturized sensors for use in national security, medicine, environmental monitoring and remediation, and agriculture.

"Our success in securing this federal contract, one of the largest in ASU's history, is a compelling validation of the strength of our research faculty and our growing track record in innovation and technology," said Sethuraman "Panch" Panchanathan, senior vice president of Knowledge Enterprise Development.

Contact: Carol Hughes
Arizona State University

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