The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is seeking innovative methods of scalable passive immunization to protection personnel for a period of time, suitable to a military mission requirement or in a public health setting. Towards this goal, the agency is soliciting proposals for the development of nucleic acid platforms capable of in vivo host production of a transient immune prophylaxis for adults.
The effort is part of the Autonomous Diagnostics to Enable Prevention and Therapeutics: Prophylactic Options to Environmental and Contagious Threats (ADEPT-PROTECT) initiative. The solicitation seeks approaches that deliver nucleic acid constructs to an immunologically naïve host in formats that are by design transient, expressed from reusable platforms (i.e., do not themselves elicit an immune response), and capable of producing the necessary repertoire of antibodies or other immune molecules at levels sufficient for prophylaxis.
The DARPA vision is to develop platform technologies that will ultimately enable transferrable immune protection equivalent to the effective component of plasmapheresis or intravenous immunoglobulin that is universal, safe, adaptable, and scalable to protect the US population. The long-term goal will be to rapidly achieve protection or prevent transmission even in instances when the emerging or engineered threat is unknown.
The agency is only considering innovative methods to advance beyond current state-of-the art and which address the inherent technical challenges including identification of protective oligoclonal immune responses; design and delivery of nucleic acid constructs to produce and express the oligoclonal response at a protective concentration and clinically-relevant duration; and ensuring safety by demonstrating that the system is non-integrating and transient.
The effort will develop methodologies that can:
|Offer protection against known diseases or threats where no specific therapeutic or vaccine exists|
|Impart robust, yet temporary immune protection to bridge the time gap between the delivery of an existing vaccine and the subsequent development of a protective immune response|
|Offer protection against emerging or uncharacterized threats|
|Confer protection for a time period greater than a single administration with an existing antibody for passive immunization|
|Achieve broad oligoclonal immune protection beyond monoclonal antibody|
|Bypass manufacturing challenges associated with rapid design and production of an in vitro monoclonal antibody for passive immunization|
|Manufacture at a cost less than in vitro monoclonal antibody therapy and competitive with a cost per dose of vaccine|
Full details are available under Solicitation Number: DARPA-BAA-13-03. Proposal abstracts are due November 29, 2012 with full proposals due no later than January 15, 2013.