recommended reading

Army Awards $156.6 Million Anti-Nerve Gas Agent Contract

United States Army

This story has been updated with additional details and background. 

The Army has awarded a $156.6 million contract to the DynPort Vaccine division of Computer Sciences Corp for development of an anti-nerve gas agent that protects against a wide range of nerve gases for up to 60 days. The agent will not be ready to use for at least six years.

The award comes on the heels of news that both the Syrian Army and rebels have used nerve gas and a “red line” warning by President Obama against the use of nerve gas by the Syrian government.  Last year the Pentagon projected it could take as many as 75,000 troops to seize and control Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons.

DynPort started work on the anti-nerve gas agent in 2007 based on human butyrylcholinesterase, a blood or plasma protein that binds and inactivates nerve agents, under a clinical trial contract with Defense Medical Identification and Treatment Systems’ Joint Product Management Office.

The new contract, awarded on Friday, calls for DynPort to develop, test and obtain Food and Drug Administration approval for what MITS calls the “Bioscavenger” nerve gas prophylaxis. This name derives from the fact that butyrylcholinesterase  acts as a scavenger by binding nerve agent in the blood stream before it can exert effects in the nervous system.

Maj. Luis Alvarez. MITS assistant  told an industry briefing in January 2011 that Bioscavenger is the “first ever nerve agent prophylactc that prevents incapacitation and death from exposure to a broad spectrum of nerve agent[s].” DynPort said  preclinical research indicated butyrylcholinesterase inhibits toxicity in nerve agents, including Sarin, Soman and VX.

Defense currently uses atropine as an anti-nerve gas agent, but its use can lead to temporary incapacitation. Alvarez said Bioscavenger will transform how Defense protects troops against nerve gases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies nerve agents as the most toxic and rapidly acting of the known chemical warfare agents, which are similar to but much more potent than than organophosphate pesticides.

Alvarez said Bioscavenger  provides “chemical immunity” against all organophosphate nerve agents at lethal dose ranges and helps reduce casualties from a nerve gas attack.

In an industry presentation in October 2011, Alvarez said MITS wanted Bioscavenger to initally provide protection against  nerve agents for ten days with a goal of 60 days after treatment. The antidote has already undergone animal tests, but Alvarez said it will also need to be tested on “hundreds to thousands” of human volunteers before it can win FDA approval.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    Download
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.