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ARRA Investments in Cooperative Research Partnerships for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases


Public Health Burden
As a Nation, we must be prepared to respond quickly and effectively to any threat to public health. Threats include new microbes that might emerge naturally and familiar pathogens that re-emerge with enhanced properties or in unusual settings. We must also be prepared for the deliberate release ofpathogenic organisms, biological toxins, chemical poisons, or radioactive substances. The primary role of the NIH in confronting these diverse threats is to carry out basic and applied scientific research and early-stage development of potential products, upon which late-stage advanced product development andultimately approval of vaccines, therapeutics and other medical countermeasures can be based.

Cooperative Research Partnerships
ARRA funds are being used to support new, milestone-driven cooperative agreements focused on development of new countermeasures (vaccines, vaccine technologies, therapeutics, immunotherapeutics, adjuvants or medical diagnostics) against bioterrorist threats and emerging infectious diseases. Many projects supported by this program involve collaborative partnerships between academic researchers from different disciplines or with industry and are centered on early-stage and/or mid-stage product development activities. With these new two-year funds, progress can be achieved in facilitating the development of new candidate products and technologies to protect the public from infectious agents.ARRA funds are being used to support new, milestone-driven cooperative agreements focused on development of new countermeasures (vaccines, vaccine technologies, therapeutics, immunotherapeutics, adjuvants or medical diagnostics) against bioterrorist threats and emerging infectious diseases. Many projects supported by this program involve collaborative partnerships between academic researchers from different disciplines or with industry and are centered on early-stage and/or mid-stage product development activities. With these new two-year funds, progress can be achieved in facilitating the development of new candidate products and technologies to protect the public from infectious agents.



Vaccines
Vaccines are the most effective method of protecting the public against infectious diseases. ARRA funded grants are exploring the development of vaccines against agents of bioterrorism and emerging and reemerging infectious diseases. Several examples are described below.
  • One project is advancing the development of a single vaccine that could protect citizens from multiple hemorrhagic fever viruses, including Ebola, Marburg, and Lassa. 1
  • Another project will advance the development of promising tularemia vaccines that have improved safety features and may be easier to store and administer. 2
  • Another project will use new technology to advance the development of novel vaccines for Chikungunya virus and improve preparedness against introduction of this disease into the U.S. 3
  • One project will advance the development of a next-generation anthrax vaccine that is safe, effective, and suitable for long-term storage. 4
  • One project will be able to test the safety and efficacy of dengue vaccines in a recently developed animal model which mimics the severity of secondary infection. 5
  • By combining new technologies, one project proposes to develop a safe, temperature-stable and potent oral vaccine for human use that is effective against multiple forms of Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis (VEE).6
Therapeutics
Antimicrobial agents for treating many infectious diseases already exist. However, we need a broader, more robust arsenal of anti-infective agents to treat the broad civilian population and to intervene against drug-resistant variants that may emerge. ARRA funds are being used to develop new therapeutics against agents of bioterrorism and emerging and reemerging infectious diseases.
  • One project focuses on the characterization and development of human monoclonal antibodies with potential use in the prevention and treatment of SARS infection in humans;7
  • Another project will advance the development of broad-spectrum, antiviral agents for treating hemorrhagic fevers caused by arenaviruses;8
  • One project seeks to improve the potency of a class of antibacterial drugs by fine tuning how best to formulate and deliver the drugs to treat infections from biodefense pathogens, including tularemia, plague, and melioidosis;9
  • One project will use new technology to identify novel targets that may lead to the next generation of influenza therapeutics;10
  • One project aims to advance drug development for Ebola by identifying lead compounds that can inhibit viral infection, and thus could protect citizens from potential outbreaks of the virus.11
  • Another project seeks to develop therapeutics active against both poxviruses and pathogenic fungi by targeting a particular class of enzymes.12
Diagnostics
The ability to rapidly identify the introduction of a bioterrorism, emerging or reemerging infectious agent or toxin will require diagnostic tools that are highly sensitive, specific, inexpensive, and easy to use. Ideally, these tests also could be used to evaluate the possible spectrum of antimicrobial resistance. Examples include the following:
  • One project will advance development of tools to diagnose viral hemorrhagic fevers (VHFs) and will build capacity in the U.S. and West Africa for diagnosis of and research on VHFs and emerging pathogens.13
  • Another project aims to deliver a faster, more effective diagnostic tool for influenza strains.14
  • Another project will advance the development of a sensor for rapid (30-60 minutes) in vitro detection of botulinum neurotoxins.15



  1. 1U01AI082197-01 -- Multivalent Vaccine for Viral Hemorrhagic Fever, Geisbert, Thomas William (MA)
  2. 1U01AI077909-01 -- Advancement of New Live Attenuated F. Tularensis Type A Vaccine Strains, Barry, Eileen M. (MD)
  3. 1U01AI082202-01 -- Chimeric Alphavirus Vaccines for Chikungunya, Weaver, Scott C. (TX)
  4. 1U01AI082224-01 -- Development of a Next Generation Anthrax Vaccine, dmPA7909, Park, Sukjoon (MD)
  5. 1U01AI082185-01 -- Mucosal Vaccination Against Dengue Virus Infection, Lo, David D; Shresta, Sujan (contact) (CA)
  6. 1U01AI078205-01 -- Mucosal Vector with TLR3 agonist for protection against VEE, Tucker, Sean N (XX)
  7. 1U01AI082206-01 -- Characterization of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies against SARS, Prabhakar, Bellur S (IL)
  8. 1U01AI077844-01 -- Broad Spectrum Treatment of Hemorrhagic Arenaviruses, Thorpe, Philip E (TX)
  9. 1U01AI082164-01 -- Development and Formulation of Broad Spectrum Antimicrobials for Biodefense, Slayden, Richard A (CO)
  10. 1U01AI078500-01 -- Identification and Development of Novel Influenza M2 Inhibitors, Doranz, Benjamin Jacob (XX)
  11. 1U01AI077767-01 -- Screening and development of anti-Ebola entry indicators, Rong, Lijun (IL)
  12. 1U01AI082015-01 -- Broad spectrum therapeutics targeting resolvase enzymes, Bushman, Frederic D (PA)
  13. 1U01AI082053-01 -- Multiplex MassTag PCR for African Hemorrhagic Fevers, Bausch, Daniel G (LA)
  14. 1U01AI077829-01 -- Portable Multiplexed LATE-PCR Influenza Test, Boyes, Barry E (XX)
  15. 1U01AI078070-01 -- Rapid detection of botulinum toxins using a high sensitivity SPR sensor, Melman, Paul (XX)


 
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