FANG structure and approach could help other biodefense agencies

Adopting the structure and approach of the Filovirus Animal Non-Clinical Group may be beneficial to the organization of other government biodefense agencies and the effort to develop medical countermeasures, according to a recent study.

The FANG is a U.S. interdepartmental and interagency group established to facilitate the advanced development of filovirus medical countermeasures, including vaccines and therapeutics. The group is co-led by one representative from the Department of Defense and one representative from the Department of Health and Human Services. Members of the group include subject matter experts, operational level program staff, scientific staff and program managers from DOD and HHS funding and regulatory agencies.

The study, which was published in the October edition of Viruses, found that the FANG has demonstrated success in conducting constructive discussions, forming general consensus and making recommendations related to current and future resource allocation to support filovirus MCM development.

"Absent personal relationships and mechanisms to transfer technical knowledge and successful practices between scientific communities and facilities, productive collaborations and synergistic outcomes are difficult at best," the researchers said. "The FANG provides a structure and forum to address many of these issues as resource and product development efforts proceed."

The researchers found that the establishment of an integrated interagency group has been invaluable to the advanced development efforts of filovirus MCM development. The two-way dialogue was found to be beneficial to both U.S. Food and Drug Administration members and non-FDA members.