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Pandemic Prevention Platform (P3) -- Deadlines Extended
DARPA is soliciting innovative research proposals to develop an end‐to‐end platform capability for preventing a pandemic threat in <60 days. Recent advances in medical countermeasures have formed a strong foundation, enabling the creation of a true end‐to‐end pandemic prevention platform. However, experience gained from conventional responses to emerging infectious diseases (MERS, SARS, dengue, chikungunya, Ebola) has demonstrated that significant bottlenecks hinder the rapid response to an emerging infectious threat1. Current challenges include the ability to rapidly produce virus needed to test and evaluate therapies, to obtain high potency antibodies within the first weeks of an outbreak, or to scale delivery methods into humans to produce protective levels inside the patient.
Eliminating pandemic outbreaks and mitigating the impact of a potential high threat biological agent release are national security priorities. The U.S. military supports U.S. Government responses to public health emergencies such as Ebola, which can cause regional destabilization and spread through global travel. Warfighters must also operate in regions where diseases like chikungunya and dengue are endemic, and even seemingly mild challenges like seasonal influenza affect force readiness. In addition to these naturally occurring threats, terrorists and other potential adversaries have a growing palette of biological tools to engineer new biological threats. The threat of infectious agents on U.S. and global national security can be mitigated if the Department of Defense (DoD) has the capability to rapidly deploy and impart near‐ immediate immunity to military personnel and civilian populations for known and newly emerging pathogens.
Existing capabilities to respond to an outbreak and develop vaccines and therapeutics often take years or even decades to achieve results. The R&D process for identifying the protective antigens can take months for a simple variant of a known infectious agent, such as seasonal influenza, and years to decades for a newly discovered agent. In many cases, even decades of research have not led to the development of licensed vaccines for known infections. Further, manufacture of traditional vaccine products typically takes an additional six to nine months.
Finally, even when effective vaccines are readily available, immunity in humans can take weeks or months to establish. Recent examples of public health emergencies have demonstrated a national and global inability to develop effective preventive or therapeutic solutions in a relevant timescale when an infectious threat emerges. Reviews of recent outbreaks have repeatedly highlighted this capability gap; the significant delay in deployment of solutions during the West Africa Ebola outbreak is a recent example.
The goal of the Pandemic Prevention Platform (P3) program is to develop an integrated capability to deliver pandemic prevention countermeasures to humans in <60 days. The P3 program aims to revolutionize outbreak response capabilities to allow rapid discovery, characterization, production, and testing of efficacious medical countermeasures. The P3 program aims to innovate in the following areas:
1. Generation of virus stock (including viral unknowns).
2. Rapid evolution of antibody candidates.
3. Gene‐encoded antibody delivery methods.
- Proposal Abstract Due Date: March 20, 2017 (was Mar. 13, 2017)
- Proposal Due Date: May 8, 2017 (was May 1, 2017)
Areas of Interest
1. On‐demand platform to grow virus.
2. System to evolve antibodies: rapid creation of highly potent medical countermeasures.
3. Delivery of medical countermeasure(s): reproducible effects which lead to protective levels of product.