Wednesday, February 9, 2011

US Bioterrorism Countermeasures: $1b Project failure?

Following September 11th and the anthrax scares, the US developed a new project to make new medicines capable of attacking viruses that might be genetically altered by terrorist. In the Pentagon's words, they were trying to develop a technology that was "one size fits all" or "one drug, many bugs". Hundred of research institution around the country were involved to try work on ways to prevent and protect against bioterrorism.

A few weeks ago, the Boston Globe reported that this project failed and that the Pentagon will now be scaling back. It failed in the sense that no new medications have been developed to prevent against altered viruses. It reports that despite a heavy amount of funding, the different institutions were unable to crack the mysteries of genetic science.

As a result, the program has decided to switch its focus from making medications to improving way of identifying mutant versions of Ebola, Marburg, Lassa, Sabia, Machupo, and Junin and other deadly viruses. One huge limitation remains for the development of treatments--it is nearly impossible to test in human clinical trials which are required for the FDA approval.

--Lauren Platt


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