The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is soliciting proposals for research supporting the potential use of bacterial “Pathogen Predators” as therapeutics against infections caused by Gram-negative antibiotic-resistant and priority threat pathogens.
The Pathogen Predators program will demonstrate that such infections might be effectively treated with live predatory bacteria. This approach would represent a significant departure from conventional antibacterial therapies that rely on small molecule antibiotics. While antibiotics have been remarkably effective in the past, their widespread use has led to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections that are difficult or impossible to treat.
The novel path explored in this program relies on the existence of predatory bacteria that prey upon and consume other Gram-negative bacteria. In vitro studies have shown that predators such as Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus and Micavibrio aeruginosavorus can prey upon more than one hundred different human pathogensand will also prey on multi-drug resistant bacteria. These findings present a unique opportunity for a predator-based therapeutic with activity against a wide range of Gram-negative pathogens, including those resistant to conventional small molecule antibiotics.
The Pathogen Predators program will answer three fundamental questions about bacterial predators:
- Are predators toxic to recipient (host) organisms?
- Against what pathogens (prey) are predators effective?
- Can pathogens develop resistance to predation?
DARPA anticipates that the Pathogen Predators program will provide up to three years of funding for research and development.
Details for submitting proposals are available under Solicitation Number: DARPA-BAA-14-51. The response deadline is September 23, 2014.