New Projects to Accelerate Innovation and Growth in the Biomanufacturing Sector

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the selection of eight projects totaling over $5 million to conduct research and development (R&D) needed to accelerate the US biomanufacturing sector. Part of the Agile BioFoundry (ABF) consortium, these projects will leverage National Laboratory capabilities to address challenges in biomanufacturing.

DOE has selected the following projects: Continue reading

NATO ON COVID-19: Alliance scientists respond to the challenge

Scientists across 
Allied and Partner Nations
 have responded to the challenge set 
by the NATO Chief Scientist 
to identify solutions to some 
of the most pressing scientific 
challenges posed by COVID-19.

Over 40 responses to the Challenge were received. Amongst the most impactful of the responses that are being taken forward in NATO’s collaborative programme of Science & Technology are those that are investigating:

  • Better understanding disinformation about the pandemic, and how to counter it;
  • Keeping Armed Forces healthy during a pandemic relief operation;
  • Applying NATO scientists’ analytic tools to planning for future pandemics;
  • Improved use of technology to train military leaders in pandemic relief operations;
  • Lessons learnt from COVID-19 for National Defence Systems;
  • The ethical dimension of military support to pandemic relief operations.

Many of the studies are due to deliver results within months.

NATO Chief Scientist, Dr Bryan Wells said: “This is a tremendous response from the Alliance network of scientists, showing how they are responding rapidly to the challenges of COVID-19 and bringing their scientific expertise to bear on this vital task”.

Other scientific responses to the pandemic are in preparation already or will be investigated, including using the expertise of NATO’s Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE).

The challenge was set to the Alliance network of 6,000 scientists – the largest such network in the world – and to NATO’s own laboratory in La Spezia. The challenge focused on solutions for virus detection, improved situational awareness, resilience and the post-COVID-19 future.

US DoD : $27M Contract to SAB Biotherapeutics to Develop Novel Rapid Response Capability

SAB Biotherapeutics has developed a first-of-its-kind therapeutic engine—unleashing the power of the body’s native biological defense system to produce immunotherapies that truly match and overpower the complexity, diversity, and evolution of human disease.

This new class of immunotherapies opens the door to new medicines that are safer, more effective, and longer lasting than current antibody therapies.

SAB Biotherapeutics (SAB), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, advancing a new class of immunotherapies leveraging the native human immune response, announced today it has been awarded a contract from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to develop and test a Rapid Response Antibody Program, valued at up to $27 million.

This progressive and competitive, three-stage, multi-year contract calls for the development of a state-of-the-art, pharmaceutical platform technology capable of rapidly and reliably producing antibody-based Medical Countermeasures (MCM) for biological threats. The goal of the program, awarded through DoD’s Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Defense (JPEO-CBRND) Joint Project Lead CBRND Enabling Biotechnologies (JPL-CBRND-EB), is to accelerate the delivery of potent, human, polyclonal antibody therapeutics to address known and novel emerging biodefense (viral, bacterial or toxin) threats.

Driven by advanced genetic engineering and antibody science, SAB has developed the DiversitAb™ platform to naturally and rapidly produce large amounts of targeted human antibodies, without human donors.

Stage 1 of the contract, totaling $3.4 million, began in September of 2019 and continues through May 2020; demonstrating the platform’s potential to meet the DoD’s requirements for producing safe and efficacious cGMP material in less than six months at current scale. Stage 2 increases the scale of production to meet the DoD’s target number of doses of prototype drug product and fully-implemented demonstration of readiness. Stage 3 calls for production of an antibody product to an unknown threat, selected by the DoD in a “live fire” exercise as well as clinical activity through a Phase 1 trial.

“We have an obligation to apply our proprietary capabilities to produce high-potency immunotherapies to virtually any target on a large scale, to a rapid response capacity,” said Eddie J. Sullivan, PhD, SAB Biotherapeutics president, CEO and co-founder. “Our therapies leverage the native immune response thereby providing a highly-specific match against the complexity, diversity and mutation of disease.”

The company has developed more than a dozen effective antibodies from its DiversitAb platform in response to infectious disease targets during outbreaks of Ebola, Zika, Dengue and others.

“For a new disease target, we’re able to move quickly to a proof-of-concept in about 90 days,” added Sullivan.

“Infectious disease has been a strategic proving ground for our platform,” added Sullivan. “If we can perform under the most demanding of scenarios to challenging targets, it builds confidence that translates to a broader array of therapeutic programs,” Sullivan said.

SAB is also advancing a therapeutic pipeline including potential treatments for autoimmune diseases, inflammation, infectious diseases and cancers. The company recently entered a research collaboration with CSL Behring to explore new innovative immunotherapies, including human immunoglobulins.

“This initiative is solidifying a place for targeted human polyclonal antibodies in the immunotherapy space, showcasing the power of the native human biological immune response,” added Sullivan. “More importantly, we’re providing an innovative new tool in the medical countermeasures toolbox.”

Source: SAB Biotherapeutics

DOD Sustainment and Acquisition Leaders Brief

Ellen M. Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment; Jennifer Santos, deputy assistant secretary of defense for industrial policy and Kim Herrington, director of pricing and contracting, hold a conference on the Defense Department’s COVID-19 acquisition policy.

The brief is mainly focussed on the relations between the DoD and the Industrial Base to react to the COVID-19.

After the introduction, very interesting question and answer section:

Link to the brief (youtube) will be added soon

Military stands up COVID Support Force

The UK Defence Secretary announces new measures to put service personnel and Reservists on standby to support public services in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Up to 10,000 personnel will be placed at a higher readiness, so they are able to assist with supporting public services. This is on top of the 10,000 already held at higher readiness.

Photographer- Cpl Andy Reddy; Crown Copyright

These measures are part of prudent contingency planning to respond in a timely way to any request from other governments departments or civil authorities for support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

So far, the military have assisted with repatriation flights from China and Japan. They are also providing specialist military planners to Local Resilience Forums who are providing support to public services, local authorities and emergency services in preparing their response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Today, the MOD can announce further preparation ready to support public services if required:

  • 150 military personnel will be trained to drive oxygen tankers in order to support the NHS if required. They will begin training on Monday.
  • measures have been taken to enable the call out of Reservists, should they be required to join the response effort
  • scientists from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) are supporting Public Health England’s effort to understand the virus and tackle the spread.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “The men and women of our armed forces stand ready to protect Britain and her citizens from all threats, including COVID-19. The unique flexibility and dedication of the services means that we are able to provide assistance across the whole of society in this time of need.”

“From me downwards the entirety of the Ministry of Defence and the armed forces are dedicated to getting the nation through this global pandemic.”

There are well-rehearsed mechanisms in place for the military to provide support to civil authorities in times of need. Most recently the military has been called on to support the government’s response to flooding.

Defence is fully engaged with other government departments, the devolved administrations and local authorities to establish how best it can support over the coming weeks and months.

The Standing Joint Command will be the Command and Control Structure for the COVID Support Force, which represents the MOD’s contribution to the government response.

Major General Charlie Stickland Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff Operations and Commitments said:

“Putting more personnel at a higher state of readiness and having our Reserves on standby gives us greater flexibility to support public services as and when they require our assistance.”

“The COVID Support Force, potentially drawing upon our highly skilled scientists at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory or oxygen tanker drivers, will form part of a whole force effort to support the country during its time of need. Our servicemen and women are committed to maintain our operational output and delivering any support the government requires.”

Source: Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)

USAF Selects Boeing to Sustain Global Decision Support System Software to enhance interoperability and agility.

Tapestry Solutions, a subsidiary  of Boeing, announced it has secured a five-year U.S. Air Force recompete contract to sustain and modernize the Global Decision Support System, or GDSS – the principal command and control (C2) software platform that supports global Air Mobility Command (AMC) missions.

GDSS helps mobility aircrews successfully plan and execute core missions, ranging from aerial refueling to strategic airlift, while providing a common operational picture for AMC and mission partners on a fully integrated platform. This enables Mobility Air Forces to rapidly move personnel and equipment – anywhere in the world within hours – and sustain troop support or relief operations as long as needed.

“We are honored to continue as AMC’s trusted partner on their cornerstone C2 program. We look forward to providing GDSS with additional capability to enable AMC to execute their critical mission more effectively and efficiently,” said Debbie Churchill, vice president, Mission Products and Services, Tapestry Solutions.   (https://www.tapestrysolutions.com/about-us/debbie-churchill/)

Tapestry Solutions, part of Boeing Global Services, has played a key role in the development, sustainment and enhancement of GDSS since 1992. Under the sustainment contract, GDSS will migrate to a cloud-hosted, DevOps environment while delivering uninterrupted services. In addition, next-generation software applications will be integrated with GDSS, capitalizing on the benefits of agile development and service-oriented architecture.

Source: The Boeing Company (NYSE: BA)
Date: Feb 18, 2020

Next Generation CBRN Protective Masks

US Air Force will complete fielding of an improved chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear protective mask for aircrew on rotary wing aircraft, allowing operational units to achieve full operational capability.

This next-generation mask, also known as the Joint Service Aircrew Mask – Rotary Wing, replaces the Aircrew Eye and Respiratory Protection system on HH-60G Pave Hawk and UH-1N Huey aircraft.

The new mask provides aircrew vastly improved ocular, percutaneous and respiratory protection and integrates with night vision goggles, requires no aircraft modification, and has joint service commonality, a five-fold increase in fit factor, a six-fold increase in battery life, and a removable faceplate.

In addition, the mask gives aircrew an enhanced field of view so they can better conduct combat missions in a CBRN environment.

“With recent and continuing world events, our nation’s ability to effectively fight and win in an environment that involves weapons of mass destruction has become more and more important,” said Dr. Mohamed Mughal, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s CBRN Defense Systems Branch chief engineer. “So far, the Air Force has already delivered JSAM RW masks to almost a dozen airbases around the world.”

Fielding teams from the joint program executive office for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense and Air Combat Command have trained aircrew flight equipment personnel on sizing, fitting and preventative maintenance checks and services for the JSAM RW mask. They have also trained aircrew in the proper wear and use of the mask. To date, the fielding teams have trained approximately 100 AFE personnel and about 75 aircrew.

“Fielding the new masks is significant because they are replacing equipment that limits the capability of aircrew to perform their mission,” said Lt. Col. William Holl, AFLCMC’s CBRN defense systems materiel leader at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. “The feedback I’m getting from aircrew is that they love the system and are excited about getting this new capability.”

“This next generation mask is a good news story all the way around,” added Mughal. “Most importantly, it provides our warfighter added protections and combat capabilities. But it also highlights the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s mission to partner with organizations outside the Air Force. This joint service program required us to team with our counterparts in the Army, the Navy and the Marines to derive and balance system requirements that met all services’ mission profiles. Despite the challenges, we succeeded. System acquisition truly is a team sport.”

Source: US Air Force

“The HIPPOCRATIC App can lead to a revolutionary breakthrough in healthcare”

Earlier diagnoses of injury (e.g., traumatic brain injury) can prevent inappropriate return-to-duty of Warfighters who may put themselves and others at risk.

Charles River Analytics Inc., developer of intelligent systems solutions, has been selected as a prime contractor under DARPA’s Warfighter Analytics using Smartphones for Health (WASH) program, performing under both technical areas. Early detection of illness and injury often yields a better prognosis. For example, if left undetected, infectious diseases can spread quickly through a population, endangering Warfighters and their missions, as well as the general population.  Continue reading

US Army: $480M (USD) to Fibrotex USA, Inc. for next gen multi-spectral Ultra-Light Weight Camouflage

Fibrotex USA, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Fibrotex-Tech of Israel, is pleased to announce that it is being awarded a contract by the US Army Natick Soldier System Center for the further development, testing and manufacture of the next generation multi-spectral Ultra-Light Weight Camouflage Net System; ULCANS. The 10-year competitive ID/IQ contract has a total value of $480M (USD). It will be administered in two phases with a final down select by FY 2019. Continue reading

Healthcare Military war-gaming

The same strategies used by the U.S. military can be tuned to help healthcare executives stay nimble and prepared for real threats.

Hospitals are facing attacks from every angle, whether it be their domain name system or the connected medical devices keeping their patients alive. Compounding this issue is the fact that few specific healthcare guidelines for training and readiness exist beyond compliance checklists. Even the 2017 report from the Health Care Industry Cybersecurity Task Force stated that the NIST frameworks do not offer enough guidance specific to the healthcare industry.

Read also:
Military War-Games: The New Healthcare Vulnerability Tests
Improving Cybersecurity in the Health Care Industry Public Health Emergency
How to use war games as a strategic tool in health care

Continue reading