United States military forces deploy to remote locations around the world, often in areas where emerging infectious diseases are common. The PREventing EMerging Pathogenic Threats (PREEMPT) program seeks to
preserve military readiness by protecting against the infectious disease
threat; however, rather than treating people, PREEMPT targets viral
pathogens within the animal reservoirs and insect vectors where many
diseases originate before they spill over into humans. The program combines biosurveillance and modeling with novel technologies
for treating or containing high-risk pathogens at their source to prevent
the emergence and reemergence of human-pathogenic threats.
PREEMPT builds on recent advances in understanding of host-pathogen genetic interactions and mechanisms of adaptation across species, emerging analytic tools to predict what species might carry potential human-pathogens, and novel capabilities to predict geographic “hot spots” where an animal-to-human viral jump is likely. By focusing far-forward biosurveillance on animal reservoirs and insect vectors, and applying high-throughput molecular technologies and next-generation sequencing to determine how viruses evolve within a species, PREEMPT seeks to identify opportunities for intervention that exploit the evolutionary bottlenecks and transmission factors that enable pathogen species jump.
Although PREEMPT pursues technology for eventual deployment, research is performed entirely in controlled laboratory facilities, including planned proof-of-concept demonstrations at the end of the program. If the program is successful, potential future field trials would take place under the auspices of other government stakeholders following all standard protocols for biosafety.
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