DARPA Makes 10 Million Strides in the Race to Contain a Hypothetical Pandemic

Kaye Beach

July 31, 2012

DARPA makes vaccines?

From DARPA published July 25, 2012;

Rapid fire test of novel, plant-based production method delivers more than 10 million doses of H1N1 VLP influenza vaccine candidate in one month

U.S. military forces are the front line of U.S. national security, but as a globally deployed force they are also on the front line of any new pathogen-based health threat that may emerge. As overall human activity pushes ever further into previously undeveloped territory, the likelihood of exposure to new pandemic diseases increases.

The 2009 Army Posture Statement, cites a World Health Organization estimate of between 20 and 50 percent of the world’s population being affected if a pandemic were to emerge. WHO forecasts “it may be six to nine months before a vaccine for a pandemic virus strain becomes available.” In a separate report on pandemic influenza, the WHO describes several challenges to producing sufficient volumes of vaccine using current, egg-based protein-production technology, including the likelihood that two doses per person could be required due to the absence of pre-existing immunity.

In short, the potential for a pandemic exists and current technological limitations on defensive measures put the health and readiness of U.S. military forces at risk. A technological solution to increase the speed and adaptability of vaccine production is urgently needed to match the broad biological threat.

DARPA’s Blue Angel program seeks to demonstrate a flexible and agile capability for the Department of Defense to rapidly react to and neutralize any natural or intentional pandemic disease. Building on a previous DARPA program, Accelerated Manufacture of Pharmaceuticals, Blue Angel targets new ways of producing large amounts of high-quality, vaccine-grade protein in less than three months in response to emerging and novel biological threats.

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