DARPA Picks 2 Firms, 2 Universities to Develop Pandemic Response Tools

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has awarded contracts to two companies and two universities to develop tools that can help stop the spread of infectious diseases within 60 days.

MedImmune, Abcellera Biologics, Duke University and Vanderbilt University will create technologies for the Pandemic Prevention Platform designed to analyze viruses for antibody discovery and assess candidate therapeutic products, DARPA said Thursday.

“P3 seeks to demonstrate an ability to rapidly produce virus needed to test and evaluate therapies, obtain high potency antibodies within the first weeks of an outbreak, and to scale delivery methods into humans to produce protective levels inside the patient,” said Col. Matthew Hepburn, a DARPA program manager.

Research teams will build technologies that will work to deliver antibodies using nucleic acid technology and provide serum concentrations of antibodies to protect against viral pathogens within three days of administration.

DARPA noted that researchers will also demonstrate the safety of their nucleic acid technology and the capacity to halt the spread of the infectious threat within 60 days from the time the pathogen sample is collected.

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