The federal government has selected five teams of scientists and researchers to figure out the best way to put a cage around new threats from viruses, such as Ebola, reports Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
The outreach focuses on zoonotic diseases, which start in animals and eventually spread to humans, according to a report from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
The objective is to determine how to reinforce traditional medical preparedness by “containing viral infectious diseases in animal reservoirs and insect vectors before they can threaten humans.”
The program, which will run for several years, is called PREEMPT, or Preventing Emerging Pathogeic Threats.
The researchers are assigned to figure out how viruses might evolve within animal populations and how they can be kept there.
Autonomous Therapeutics Inc., Institut Pasteur, Montana State University, The Pirbright Institute and the University of California, Davis, were picked by DARPA to lead the PREEMPT teams.
“DARPA challenges the PREEMPT research community to look far left on the emerging threat timeline and identify opportunities to contain viruses before they ever endanger humans,” said Brad Ringeisen, a spokesman for the government effort. “One of the chief limitations of how infectious disease modeling is currently conducted is that it forecasts the trajectory of an outbreak only after it is underway in people.
“The best that data can do is inform a public health response, which places the United States in a reactive mode. We require proactive options to keep our troops and the homeland safe from emerging infectious disease threats.”
World Health Organization statistics show about six in 10 of the known emerging infectious diseases around the globe are zoonoses.
They are “responsible for millions of human deaths every year, and the scope of the challenge is increasing due to the densification of livestock production, human encroachment into natural spaces, and upward trends in globalization, temperature, and population,” the agency said.