DTRA and InnoCentive announce winner of DTRA Algorithm Challenge

InnoCentive and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency/U.S. STRATCOM Center for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction announced on Tuesday the winner of a $1 million bio threat algorithm challenge.

The "DTRA Algorithm Challenge" called for the production of an algorithm which could rapidly and accurately detect a bio threat from a clinical sample based on DNA sequence data. The submissions were tested by teams at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory and U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center.

The winning submission came from Team Huson, which included innovators Daniel Huson, Benjamin Buchfink and Xie Chao. Traditional threat detection methods can take up to a week to analyze, meaning an infected person must wait to be treated.

Team Huson developed a rapid assay that accurately gives test results in ten minutes and can be conducted in the field. The assay can detect bacterial and viral pathogens and gives hope for a more efficient detection and treatment response to bio threats.

"Team Huson's algorithm will lead to an enhancement in DTRA's current capability to diagnose and treat bio-threats in a shorter time-frame and support life-saving interventions," DTRA Diagnostics, Detection and Disease Surveillance Division Devices Branch Manager Dr. Christian Whitchurch said.

InnoCentive Executive Chairman Craig Jones was impressed with the results of the challenge, which he said proved the power of collaboration between governments and private industry.

"The fact that three scientists from Germany and Singapore who were not known to the government, could access the InnoCentive platform and provide this breakthrough, once again proves the power of the InnoCentive approach," Jones said. "This successful challenge-prize experience shows what can happen when government and private industry work together to make our nation safer and more secure."