The Pathogen Predators program focuses on force readiness and homeland protection through development of novel countermeasures against biological threats involving bacterial agents. Currently, the most common defense against such a threat is traditional antibiotics, but while such antibiotics have been remarkably effective in the past, their widespread use has heightened the risk of our troops contracting antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections that are difficult or impossible to treat. A new type of countermeasure is needed to overcome the threat posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Pathogen Predators aims to develop a new class of dynamic therapeutics that use live, motile, predatory bacteria that prey upon other Gram-negative bacteria that are pathogenic to humans. Previous in vitro studies have shown that predators such as Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus and Micavibrio aeruginosavorus prey upon more than 100 different human pathogens, including several that are multi-drug resistant. These results suggest that it is possible to develop a predator-based therapeutic with efficacy against a broad spectrum of Gram-negative pathogens, including those that are resistant to antibiotics.
The Pathogen Predators program seeks to establish the technical feasibility of such an approach for use in humans. The program supports fundamental research aimed at developing a molecular-level understanding of predator-prey interactions as well as studies using in vivo infectious disease models. Specifically, Pathogen Predators seeks to determine if predators are toxic to recipient (host) organisms; against what pathogens (prey) predators are effective; and if pathogens can develop resistance to predation over time.
If successful, Pathogen Predators will lay the groundwork for a living, predator-based therapeutic that is safe and efficacious against a large number of infectious diseases, including those that are resistant to conventional treatments. Future advances in this area may be also applied to a range of biological technologies including the autonomous control of epidemics.
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