DARPA project focuses on immunity in fight against resistant pathogens

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is developing a program to combat drug resistance in pathogens with a change in pharmaceutical focus, the agency said on Tuesday.

The Technologies for Host Resilience (THoR) aims to develop technology and treatment options that aid the immune-system response to pathogens rather than replicating it by destroying the pathogens. While antibiotics have been effective in the past by merely eliminating the infectious agent, the organisms have mutated enough so that many are resistant to antibiotics that are widely used.

"Our aim with THoR is to lay the foundation for new treatments that would enable the body to more easily and safely cope with infection,” Col. Matt Hepburn, DARPA program manager, said. “Among other potential advantages, these new treatments would prevent the body’s overreaction to infection and buy time for the individual’s natural recovery mechanisms to kick in. We want to help patients ‘weather the storm’ during the critical phases of acute illness.”

To help lay out the technical objectives of THoR, DARPA has scheduled Proposers Day, which will be held on April 27 in Denver, Colorado. Advanced registration is open until April 20 and is available at http://ow.ly/L2Rhr.

If successful, THoR's methodologies could lead to treatments for many life-threatening conditions and illnesses, including sepsis.

The methodologies that will be discussed at the event include finding resistant individuals of different species, as well as identifying tolerance-building mechanisms and using that information to replicate the process.

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

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