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Much like someone might go to their medicine cabinet for aspirin, a pandemic prevention center coming to the D.C. area will be creating drugs to respond to outbreaks of the future.
The Global Pandemic Prevention and Biodefense Center is being launched by the nonprofit Connected DMV.
Based in Montgomery County, Maryland, it will involve scientists and collaborators from around the world in Europe, Asia and other places, but operations will be centered in the D.C. region.
“We’ll create antibodies for the top 100 pathogens,” said ConnectedDMV President and CEO Stu Solomon of the center’s first project: AHEAD100.
Briefing the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Wednesday, Solomon said historic approaches of trying to predict outbreaks to target have largely failed. This effort will work to develop drugs to prevent and treat outbreaks before they can grow into pandemic or epidemic situations.
“Scientists from all over the world are on the steering committee today and have met multiple times, and they’re identifying and agreeing on top 100 known pathogen risks,” Solomon said.
Antibodies are not an obscure technology. The top 10 drugs in the drug market are antibodies used to target conditions involving, for example, immunotherapy, autoimmunity and cancer, according to AHEAD100’s lead scientist.
“It’s not an experimental technology. It’s something that’s here now, and it just has not so much been used for infectious diseases,” said Dr. James Crowe Jr., the director of the Vanderbilt University Vaccine Center.
“So, we want to take these biotech inventions out of the cancer and autoimmunity world and apply them to preventing pandemics; so we brought together all the stakeholders who know how to do this,” Crowe said.
The pandemic center is in the middle of a six-month strategy phase and expects to launch and be fully “operationalized” this summer.
You can hear Solomon discuss the center and more on the BioTalk with Rich Bendis here.