Pentagon germ warfare program reporting few advances

After the conclusion of a five-year, $1 billion plan to develop treatments for civilians and troops who could be infected in a germ warfare attack, a Pentagon program has only yielded two experimental medicines that show any promise.

The primary goal of developing these medicines took the form of over 50 research projects using more than 100 contractors, which resulted in only two medicines that are still far away from being ready for limited clinical tests, the Boston Globe reports.

"They are trying to come up with new medical technologies that are more difficult to develop," Crystal Franco, a specialist at the Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said, according to the Boston Globe. "They are really trying to push the envelope."

The Pentagon hopes to spend its next $1 billion more effectively for what is called the Transformational Medical Technologies program, which will focus on identifying mutant versions of Marburg, Ebola and other deadly viruses that could be used in terrorist attacks.

The original program was devised after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the mailing of anthrax to media organizations and members of Congress – events that helped the U.S. military realize that it had inadequate defenses against bioterrorism.

Several hurdles the original and new program have faced include the difficulty of devising such medicines, an inability to test the drugs in human clinical trials and the need for ongoing taxpayer-investment commitments from the government.