DTRA / DARPA Funded Project Demonstrates the Power of Computational Tools in the Rapid Demonstration of New Candidate Medical Countermeasures for Influenza

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A dynamic research project jointly funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) has yielded exciting results.

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This exciting discovery is an example of novel molecular tools we are exploiting to rapidly develop new strategies to intervene with potential pandemic diseases and biological threats.

A dynamic research project jointly funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) has yielded exciting results for influenza countermeasures.

In a recent paper entitled “Computational Design of Proteins Targeting the Conserved Stem Region of Influenza Hemagglutinin," co-authors demonstrate novel computational methods in the rapid design and demonstration of new proteins that bind to the surface of influenza hemagglutinin and significantly inhibit the activity that underlies its infective potency.

This exciting discovery, led by Principal Investigators (PI), Drs. David Baker, Sarel Fleishman and Timothy Whitehead describes successful design of proteins which are highly effective binders for previously secluded sites of influenza hemagglutinin.

Experiments are underway to explore the potential of specific proteins as therapeutic and diagnostic candidates. This work is a result of funding from both the Protein Design Program at DARPA and from the Chemical and Biological Technologies Directorate at DTRA which executes the Joint Science and Technology Office function for the Department of Defense.

“This exciting discovery is an example of novel molecular tools we are exploiting to rapidly develop new strategies to intervene with potential pandemic diseases and biological threats,” said Alan S. Rudolph, Director of Chemical and Biological Technologies Directorate and the Joint Science and Technology Office at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. Rudolph goes on to explain, “this is also a great example of strong interagency collaborations between DTRA and DARPA to translate discovery into development in biodefense.”

DTRA safeguards America’s interests from weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high explosives) by controlling and reducing the threat to the United States and its allies, and providing quality tools and services for the warfighter. This Department of Defense combat support agency is located at Fort Belvoir, Va., and operates field offices worldwide.

No. DTRA 2011-008

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