Pentagon Seeks Bacteria to Prey on Bioweapon Agents


July 22, 2014, 8:46 a.m.

The Pentagon wants to study how cer­tain kinds of bac­teria might be used to “prey” on po­ten­tial bio­lo­gic­al-weapon agents, Glob­al Biode­fense re­ports.

The De­fense Ad­vanced Re­search Pro­jects Agency could fund stud­ies that ex­am­ine wheth­er “pred­at­ory” bac­teria may in­flict ad­di­tion­al harm on or­gan­isms in­fec­ted by an agent such as plague, tu­lar­emia, bru­cel­los­is or Q fever, ac­cord­ing to a De­fense De­part­ment so­li­cit­a­tion quoted in a Monday art­icle.

Any pro­posed re­search must also con­sider what in­fec­tious agents are sus­cept­ible to bac­teri­al pred­at­ors, and wheth­er tar­geted agents can de­vel­op coun­ter­meas­ures to ex­pos­ure, ac­cord­ing to a broad agency an­nounce­ment is­sued on Thursday.

“This ap­proach would rep­res­ent a sig­ni­fic­ant de­par­ture from con­ven­tion­al an­ti­bac­teri­al ther­apies that rely on small mo­lecule an­ti­bi­ot­ics,” the so­li­cit­a­tion states.

“While an­ti­bi­ot­ics have been re­mark­ably ef­fect­ive in the past, their wide­spread use has led to the emer­gence of an­ti­bi­ot­ic-res­ist­ant bac­teri­al in­fec­tions that are dif­fi­cult or im­possible to treat,” ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ment.

Pre­vi­ous re­search, though, has demon­strated “that pred­at­ors such as Bdellovi­brio bac­teri­ovor­us and Micavi­brio aer­u­ginosa­vor­us can prey upon more than one hun­dred dif­fer­ent hu­man patho­gens and will also prey on multi-drug res­ist­ant bac­teria,” the no­tice states.