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Saturday, June 15th, 2024

New DARPA program targets bloodstream infections


Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) officials are touting a new program they maintain addresses bloodstream infections (BSI)-causing fungal and bacterial pathogens.

The Synthetic Hemo-technologIEs that Locate & Disinfect (SHIELD) program seeks to develop broad, preventive treatments for soldiers who suffer trauma from gunshot or blast wounds or burns.

“SHIELD is designed to develop innovative approaches to create safe and effective broad spectrum medical countermeasures that can defeat fungal and bacterial pathogens, thereby preventing serious disease and death,” noted SHIELD Program Manager, Christopher Bettinger said. “While many of us may be familiar with the idea of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, there are an increasing number of pathogenic fungal strains that resist even the most potent anti-fungal compounds as a result of overuse of these compounds in hospitals and agricultural applications.”

SHIELD will engage with U.S. government and defense stakeholders, in addition to appropriate regulatory authorities, as a means of ensuring safety and efficacy.

“Future conflicts may incur high casualty rates, require prolonged field care and be in austere environments with limited resources – all of which increase the risk and impact of bacterial and fungal infections,” Bettinger said. “If successful, SHIELD could make a huge impact in preventing morbidity and mortality from BSIs.”

According to DARPA, the program’s first phase will show proof-of-concept studies for safety and efficacy in vitro studies while phase two seeks to validate the findings with either fungal or bacterial infections in animal models and the final phase endeavors to increase survival in animals exposed to both fungal and bacterial pathogens simultaneously.