University of Pennyslvania awarded contract to develop biothreat antibiotics

The University of Pennsylvania has been awarded a five year contract by the Department of Defense’s Transformational Medical Technologies for the development of antibiotics to ward off Category A and B biothreat bacterial agents.

Category A bacterial agents can easily be transmitted from person to person. Other criteria of Category A agents are the ability to result in high mortality rates, cause public panic and social disruption, and require special action for public health preparedness.

Category B bacterial agents are fairly easy to disseminate, result in moderate to low mortality rates, require specific enhancements of the Center for Disease Control's diagnostic capacity and enhanced disease surveillance.

Dr. Harvey Rubin, the principal investigator for the contract, said that the university may receive up to $17.8 million in support of development efforts under this new Defense Threat Reduction Agency contract.

Rubin is a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the director of the Institute for Strategic Threat Analysis and Response, a multidisciplinary institute for research, teaching and policy formulation in strategy and security studies.

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency was founded in 1998 to focus the capabilities of the Department of Defense to address the threat of weapons of mass destruction.