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Darpa: Do Away With Antibiotics, Then Destroy All Pathogens

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Last year, federal officials warned that Americans were on the verge of “a post-antibiotic era.” And that’s exactly what the Pentagon’s far-out research agency is after.

As long as they’ve got a replacement at the ready, of course. In the military’s latest round of small business solicitations, Darpa is making a long-shot request for an all-out replacement to antibiotics, the decades-old standard for killing or injuring bacteria to demolish a disease. In its place: the emerging field of nanomedicine would be used to fight bacterial threats. The agency’s “Rapidly Adaptable Nanotherapeutics” is after a versatile “platform capable of rapidly synthesizing therapeutic nanoparticles” to target unknown, evolving and even genetically engineered bioweapons.

It’s the latest of several Darpa programs to improve we deal with bacterial infections, viruses and bio-threats. The agency is already funding tobacco-based vaccine production, prescient viral infection detectors and insta-vaccines to inoculate against unknown pathogens.

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