Pentagon takes nano-approach to eliminating viruses

Defense Department file photo

DARPA wants to microscopically treat diseases.

The Pentagon’s research arm wants to experiment with manmade mini-molecular structures that can be implanted in cells to treat infectious diseases and traumatic brain injuries, contracting databases show.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is looking to fund scientists who can use the building blocks of living organisms to construct microscopic particles that affect how viruses are transmitted or cells work.

The goal of the experiments, funded through a program called In Vivo Nanoplatforms for Therapeutics would be to “develop novel, biocompatible nanotherapeutic platforms with sequence, specificity, and function that can be programmed “on-the-fly” to treat military-relevant diseases,” reads the requests for proposals.

The nanotechnology could reduce the amount of leave sick soldiers have to take as well as meet “a compelling need to develop technologies that could dramatically improve soldier readiness,” the solicitation said.

The Pentagon-funded scientists will attempt new approaches in nanotechnology where traditional research has fallen short. Current implantable materials tend to be swallowed up or purged by blood cells, the immune system’s response to foreign pathogens. They also tend to quickly degrade in complex biological fluids such as blood, the document reads.

DARPA expects researches to successfully deliver nanostructures to tissues and have a 90 percent success rate in eliminating selected molecule targets by 42 months, states the solicitation. Proposals are due Sept. 18.