Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List

Infectious Disease

Relating to ailments caused by pathogens

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DARPA has selected five teams of researchers to support PREventing EMerging Pathogenic Threats (PREEMPT), a 3.5-year program first announced in January 2018 to reinforce traditional medical preparedness by containing viral infectious diseases in animal reservoirs and insect vectors before they can threaten humans. Through studies in secure laboratories and simulated natural environments, the PREEMPT researchers will model how viruses might evolve within animal populations, and assess the safety and efficacy of potential interventions.
Could it be that your scent is just a bit too attractive? It is known that mosquitoes are drawn to certain human chemical odors that lead the insects to sources of food. ReVector, a new program from DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office, intends to diminish that attraction — or even actively repel mosquitoes — by engineering the skin microbiome to temporarily alter chemical production. By modulating the interaction of skin-associated microbes with metabolites from the body, ReVector technologies might lower the incidence of mosquito feeding and thus reduce the opportunity for the insects to transmit diseases such as malaria, dengue, and chikungunya that reduce military readiness.
Breakthroughs in the science of programmable gene expression inspired DARPA to establish the PReemptive Expression of Protective Alleles and Response Elements (PREPARE) program with the goal of delivering powerful new defenses against public health and national security threats. DARPA has now selected five teams to develop a range of new medical interventions that temporarily and reversibly modulate the expression of protective genes to guard against acute threats from influenza and ionizing radiation, which could be encountered naturally, occupationally, or through a national security event.
In a twist on how gene editing technology might be applied in the future, DARPA’s newest biotechnology funding opportunity aims to incorporate gene editors into detectors for distributed health biosurveillance and rapid, point-of-need diagnostics for endemic, emerging, and engineered pathogenic threats. The “Detect It with Gene Editing Technologies” (DIGET) program could help the Department of Defense maintain force readiness by informing rapid medical response and increasing the standard of care for troops, and preserve geopolitical stability by preventing the spread of infectious disease from becoming a driver of conflict.
We find ourselves in pandemic times. The global population is under siege by an infectious virus new to humankind. It’s called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2. It’s the causative agent of the pandemic disease designated COVID-19. This viral adversary knows no politics. It recognizes no national boundaries. It is unconcerned with anyone’s identity. All 7.8 billion of us are the same to the virus: we are all hosts suitable to commandeer to make copies of itself.