DARPA moves bioagent detection to Critical Reagents Program

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced on Friday that it is moving its antibody detection technology to the Defense Department's Critical Reagents Program.

The DOD used antibody-based biosensors to detect dangerous antigens such as anthrax and biological toxins. The biosensors were limited in their long-term functioning, were unable to keep a tight bond between antigens and antibodies, and were rendered inoperable by high temperatures. DARPA launched the Antibody Technology Program in 2009 to address technological limitations of antibody-based biosensors and achieve revolutionary improvements in the stability of antibodies, Government Security News reports.

DARPA said the ATP ended in 2012 after achieving both goals and a plan was in place to transition the technologies to the CRP for biosensor deployment throughout the military. One of the major changes to the antibody-based biosensors is their new ability to remain stable at 158 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 48 hours.

"When you consider the locations of warfighters who have the most potential for biological weapons to be used against them, they are typically environments with extreme temperatures and harsh conditions, and the warfighters themselves are probably operating in small groups," Mildred Donlon, the DARPA program manager for ATP, said, according to Government Security News. "If it's going to be useful to these teams, DOD equipment needs to be ruggedized to survive conditions and be easy to use by non-experts. The ATP technology hits these goals."

In addition, the advances in technology will keep warfighters from having to refrigerate the sensors, saving the DOD approximately $10 million per year.

DARPA partnered with the U.S. Army's Edgewood Chemical Biological Center and multiple companies to develop the advanced biosensor technologies, Government Security News reports.