The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently awarded contracts to FLIR Systems, Leidos, and Charles River Analytics to create lightweight materials and more adaptable countermeasures for equipment protective against chemical and biological threats.
The problem is, while protection is as important as ever, state-of-the-art personal protective equipment can be cumbersome, inhibiting the mobility and performance of those in need. DARPA hopes that, through the five-year Personalized Protective Biosystem (PPB) program, contractors will be able to utilize molecular technologies and commensal organisms to improve existing equipment.
“PPB aims to address PPE limitations, including threat-specific vulnerabilities, thermal/logistical burdens, and potential exposure risks,” Eric Van Gieson, PPB program manager, said. “The capability to provide unburdened CB protection will be invaluable in maximizing time on target, providing operational flexibility, extending mission duration, and enabling operations in austere environments, regardless of the threat.”
This partnership of public and private interests will divide efforts into two technical areas: TA1 and TA2. TA1 will block external contact between threats and the body using smart, lightweight materials, while TA2 will neutralize threats at tissue barriers like the skin or airways with configurable countermeasures.
DARPA intends to seek Investigational New Drug approval for relevant components from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.