Health threats often evolve more quickly than health solutions. Despite ongoing research in the government and the biopharmaceutical industry to identify new therapies, the Department of Defense (DoD) currently lacks tools to address the full spectrum of chemical, biological, and disease threats that could impact the readiness of U.S. forces.
The DARPA Folded Non-Natural Polymers with Biological Function program (Fold F(x)) aims to provide new tools to rapidly discover stable, reproducible functional polymers for medicines and diagnostics, enabling faster response to emerging threats. Instead of rational pairwise design of a single polymeric binder to a specific threat, Fold F(x) seeks to develop approaches for rapid synthesis and high throughput screening of up to a billion sequence-defined polymers per threat to discover sensitive and selective binders. This physical search methodology is analogous to a highly parallel computation, exploiting the structural diversity of a stochastic set of folded polymer structures to discover desired function. As such, Fold F(x) is demonstrating strategies to accelerate searching a massive design space to discover structures of interest for a variety of applications.
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