Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute are developing a new method of vaccination that could potentially be used to provide instantaneous protection whether the target is a cancer cell, flu virus, or a toxin like anthrax in the event of a bioterrorism attack. Normally, it takes days or weeks for the body to build immunity against a pathogen. The scientists injected mice with chemicals designed to trigger a universal immune reaction, as well as “adapter molecules” that they had developed to recognize the target cells causing the disease. The adapter molecules cooperate with the antibodies to create “covalent antibody-adapter complexes” within the body of the animal. “The antibodies in our vaccine are designed to circulate inertly until they receive instructions from tailor-made small molecules to become active against a specific target,” says Scripps professor Carlos Barbas III. “The advantage of this method is that it opens up the possibility of having antibodies primed and ready to go in the time it takes to receive an injection or swallow a pill.” This presents an exciting possibility for the field of biodefense, especially.
Also working in the Biodefense space:
US Genomics‘ DNA mapping technology takes low resolution snap-shots of DNA at a speed of hundreds of genomes per second, avoiding technologies that are very slow, expensive and cumbersome, taking months or even years for a single genome to be sequenced.
Emergent BioSolutions of Maryland is developing vaccines for infections caused by tuberculosis, typhoid, Chlamydia Trachomatis, and shigella. Their Biothrax product is the only vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the prevention of anthrax.
The BioCheck Powder Screening Test by 20/20 Gene Systems allows first responders to screen for multiple biological terror agents simultaneously. When a substance is present in visible quantities, such white powder in an envelope, the test can determine in five minutes whether it is deadly ricin or harmless dust.
Genocea Bioscience‘s technology can essentially mimic the mammalian immune system in vitro and present it with every possible antigen from a disease-causing agent.
ICx Technologies is creating a chemical and biological mass spectrometer to be used in military reconnaissance vehicles.
XOMA has a premier antibody discovery and development platform that incorporates leading antibody phage display libraries and the company’s proprietary Human Engineering and bacterial cell expression and manufacturing technologies.
Response Biomedical is commercializing a new class of diagnostic with the world’s only immunoassay platform that provides lab-quality information in a matter of minutes.