Scientists are waging an under-the-microscope battle to determine how weaponized chemical and biological agents behave inside cells to kill their victims.
Teams of specialists are roughly six months into a five-year dash for technologies capable of determining how a biological or chemical invader acts on a molecular level to assault the human body, the project’s top Defense Department overseer told Global Security Newswire. The initiative — dubbed “Rapid Threat Assessment” — would ideally yield techniques capable of providing a full readout of an unconventional weapon material within 30 days, allowing for fast preparation of new medical treatments.
“It’s a little early to make any predictions of future success,” said Barry Pallotta, who is heading the project for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Project participants are acting on their own timelines to pursue various visions for analytical systems capable of determining exactly when, where and how foreign invaders acts inside of human cells, Pallotta wrote in an e-mailed response to questions.
He said the goal is to develop methods of revealing the molecular blow-by-blow of an unconventional weapon’s course of attack “with 95 percent accuracy.”
“Each project team … is currently focused on meeting the milestones that come due at the end of the base period about a year from now,” Pallotta wrote.
His agency said inventors would then face a test where they will have 30 days “to detect, identify, reconstruct, and confirm the mechanism of a demonstration compound.”
Proposals deemed to show enough promise could see their funding renewed for up to three additional 14-month cycles, according to a DARPA broad agency announcement from last year.
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The House has completed it's business for 2016 by passing a spending bill which will keep the government funded through April 28. The final vote tally was 326-96. The bill's standing in the Senate is a bit tenuous at the moment, as a trio of Democratic Senators have pledged to block the bill unless coal miners get a permanent extension on retirement and health benefits. The government runs out of money on Friday night.
The Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act today, sending the $618 billion measure to President Obama. The president vetoed the defense authorization bill a year ago, but both houses could override his disapproval this time around.
"President-elect Donald Trump railed against the Trans-Pacific Partnership on his way to winning the White House and has vowed immediately to withdraw the U.S. from the 12-nation accord. Several of his cabinet picks and other early nominees to top posts, however, have endorsed or spoken favorably about the trade pact, including Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, announced Wednesday as Mr. Trump’s pick for ambassador to China, and retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, Mr. Trump’s pick to head the Department of Defense."