U.S. Seeks New Tools to Fight Hardiest Bacteria

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Global Security Newswire Staff
Feb. 7, 2014, 7:47 a.m.

The U.S. De­fense De­part­ment is seek­ing sci­ent­ists to pur­sue new drug tech­no­logy for fight­ing the har­di­est bac­teria with bi­o­ter­ror­ism po­ten­tial, USA Today re­ports.

The Pentagon’s De­fense Threat Re­duc­tion Agency this week is­sued a re­quest for in­form­a­tion on the pos­sible cre­ation of “small or­gan­ic mo­lecules in­hib­it­ors” to fight mul­tiple-drug-res­ist­ant bac­teria, in­clud­ing those des­ig­nated as “Tier 1” se­lect agents, the news­pa­per said on Thursday. High-risk bac­teria on the 11-agent list in­clude an­thrax, plague and the or­gan­isms that cause glanders and melioidos­is.

The so­li­cit­a­tion says re­spond­ents already should have com­pleted Phase 1 clin­ic­al tri­als of their pro­posed products, or be at an “ad­vanced” stage in the test­ing. Such tri­als seek to es­tab­lish the safety of drug can­did­ates.

The Pentagon re­quest marked a new step in a long-run­ning ef­fort to pre­pare against po­ten­tial bio­lo­gic­al and chem­ic­al threats from ex­trem­ists, as well as pos­sible dis­af­fected gov­ern­ment in­siders, ac­cord­ing to USA Today.

The United States es­tab­lished the Tier 1 agents list in a 2010 pres­id­en­tial ex­ec­ut­ive or­der. The move es­tab­lished spe­cial safety and se­cur­ity pre­cau­tions for hand­ling bio­lo­gic­al ma­ter­i­als that fall in­to the cat­egory.

Or­gan­isms on the list pose “the greatest risk of de­lib­er­ate mis­use with most sig­ni­fic­ant po­ten­tial for mass cas­u­al­ties or dev­ast­at­ing ef­fects to the eco­nomy, crit­ic­al in­fra­struc­ture or pub­lic con­fid­ence,” the White House man­date states.

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