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Medicine The Military Science

DARPA Requests Replacement To Antibiotics 193

eldavojohn writes "In the grand scheme of things, antibiotics are a very temporary solution to aid humans in combating bacteria. Bacterial resistance to said antibiotics is an increasing fear and DARPA's 'Rapidly Adaptable Nanotherapeutics' solicitation reveals they're interested in a more permanent solution as modifying the genes of harmless bacteria can result in powerful bioweapons. Like siRNA, DARPA is hoping for more nanomolecules that can specifically target cells and deliver medicine to them anywhere in the body. Most amazing about this proposal is that it's aimed at small businesses and hopes to turn a process that takes decades to study a new antibiotic into a few weeks to manufacture nanomedicine to specifically target bacteria."
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DARPA Requests Replacement To Antibiotics

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  • by wjcofkc ( 964165 ) on Monday November 21, 2011 @12:08PM (#38124852)
    It is massively unfortunate that antibiotics have fallen due to misuse. By all means the *should* be viable for decades to come, but that has been ruined by ignorance. To this day I know people who despite being aware of the issue from the news, doctors, and long lectures by me, discontinue their course before it's done and then hoard those antibiotics to take when they have a cold or the flu. Yet they have been informed thoroughly as to why this is bad and why antibiotics don't even try viri.

    This is not a matter of educating the public. The public has been educated yet they ignore it. I have never understood where this profound ignorance comes from. This is a major hot button for me.

    Past all that, if any organization can formulate something new and better I suppose that would be DARPA.
  • by guises ( 2423402 ) on Monday November 21, 2011 @12:17PM (#38124940)
    "antibiotics are a very temporary solution to aid humans in combating bacteria"

    The problem is overuse - factory farming is unsustainable for this reason alone, but putting an end to high density meat production and doing a better job with limiting antibiotic use among humans would not only stop the development of antibiotic resistance, it would reverse the process. Evolution cuts both ways, bacteria may evolve a resistance to antibiotics but they give something up in the process. If you remove the stimulus then, given time, the process will reverse.

    Of course, ending factory farming would mean more expensive meat (i.e. big government nanny-state), but more importantly would cut into the profits of a few certain companies. So DARPA comes up with this instead.
  • by wisnoskij ( 1206448 ) on Monday November 21, 2011 @12:18PM (#38124968) Homepage

    I far bigger issue then singular humans mistaking antibiotics is the universal use by the farming industry on animals.

  • by Zdzicho00 ( 912806 ) on Monday November 21, 2011 @12:19PM (#38124982)

    Bacteriophages are being used to cure such infections in one of polish hospitals. For example MRSA is being cured in 80% of cases.
    Therapy is safe and cheap: []

    Why you are not going to see such treatments in your country?? Phages are not patentable, so no way to earn hard cash here.

  • by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Monday November 21, 2011 @12:39PM (#38125234) Homepage Journal

    It's probably not hooey.

    DARPA tends to put blue-sky stuff like this into SBIR [] (Small Business Innovation Research). You'd be amazed at what comes out of these grants.

    Disclaimer: In a previous job, I worked for a company that did work under SBIR.

  • by AdrianKemp ( 1988748 ) on Monday November 21, 2011 @12:57PM (#38125446)

    As mentioned above, they really do want small businesses.

    The big companies might have some extra money to toss at a problem, but they won't without good chances for return.

    In this case "small businesses" translates roughly to "those crazy enough to risk economic ruin when they fail".

    *note* I realize this post sounds a little negative, that is not the intent. I love DARPA and out of the grants they award has come some truly stunning stuff.

  • by tmosley ( 996283 ) on Monday November 21, 2011 @06:05PM (#38129532)
    Considering it is my line of work, yes, I am an expert.

    Find me a species of bacteria that can develop an immunity to direct oxidation of its membrane. Just one. Such an organism could live in fire, and swim in bleach. Evolution isn't magic, and poison is different from fire. You can become immune to poison, but only in fiction can you become immune to fire while remaining alive. Oxidative attack is the molecular equivalent of fire, the only difference is you don't get persistent plasma off of wet oxidation.

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll