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DARPA Seeks First-in-Human Therapeutic Interfering Particles Targeting Respiratory Viruses

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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Small Business Programs Office is seeking innovative research concepts for Therapeutic Interfering Particles (TIPs) as a medical countermeasure against viruses in humans.

There is a critical DoD need to respond effectively to rapidly evolving viruses against which vaccines and therapeutics are intrinsically difficult to develop. TIPs are virus-derived particles lacking pathogenic genetic components and engineered to outcompete the virus for the viral components required for replication. As virus-derived particles, TIPs have the potential to co-evolve and keep pace with evolving pathogens.

By out-competing the virus, TIPs can directly reduce the number of infectious viruses within a patient and attenuate disease transmission. These properties make TIPs especially well-suited to combating rapidly evolving pathogens. Although these attributes have been demonstrated in the literature, in vitro, and in vivo, their safety and efficacy have yet to be shown in humans.

In particular, DARPA is interested in understanding the feasibility of Phase I Clinical Trials for TIPs. DARPA seeks to de-risk this emerging technology through a small, first-in-human Phase I clinical trial.

For this effort, DARPA will accept proposals for cost up to $2,250,000. This includes a 24-month base period not to exceed a cost of $2,000,000 and a separately priced option of up to $250,000 for participation in the DARPA Entrepreneurial Investigator Initiative.

This solicitation will open for proposals on June 5, 2019 and close on July 3, 2019.

Additional details are available via Solicitation Number: HR001119S0035-02

References

Dimmock NJ, Easton, AJ. Defective Interfering Influenza Virus RNAs: Time To Reevaluate Their Clinical Potential as Broad-Spectrum Antivirals? Journal of Virology. 2014 May; 88(10): 5217-5227.

Smith SM, Scott PD, O’Callaghan C, Easton AJ, Dimmock NJ. A Defective Interfering Influenza RNA Inhibits Infectious Influenza Virus Replication in Human Respiratory Tract Cells: A Potential New Human Antiviral. Viruses. 2016 Aug; 8(8) 237.

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