SRI awarded DARPA contract to develop attack-resistant polymers

SRI Biosciences has a $10 million DARPA contract to develop polymers that prevent and counter biological and chemical threats. | Courtesy of SRI International

SRI Biosiences said on Wednesday that it has been awarded a $10 million contract under a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program to develop polymers that prevent and counter biological and chemical threats.

The countermeasures are part of the Folded Non-Natural Polymers with Biological Function program, which aims to develop compounds that are similar in structure to naturally occurring proteins to act as countermeasures. The benefit of being non-natural is that they would be resistant to heat and other forms of degradation.

“Our goal is to develop a method that can enable rapid, large-scale responses to a bioterrorism threat or an infectious-disease epidemic,” Peter Madrid, program director of SRI Biosciences' Center for Chemical Biology and co-principal investigator and chemistry leader on the project, said. “We are looking for non-natural polymers to detect or neutralize identified chemical or biological threats. Once we find potent molecules, we will be able to produce them at mass scale."

In its beginning stages, these polymers will be evaluated as potential tools to aid in prevention and treatment against biological and chemical threats, such as an outbreak of H1N1 avian flu, Ebola, or terrorist attacks using ricin or sarin.

“Our breakthrough has been to adapt SRI’s FASTcell technology to screen libraries of non-natural polymers," Nathan Collins, executive director of SRI Biosciences' Discovery Science Section, said. "It’s very exciting to be doing such novel research."

Organizations in this story

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) 675 North Randolph Street Arlington, VA 22203

Get notified the next time we write about The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)!