The federal government is launching a research effort that will look for ways to program genetic codes to protect people, especially military service members and first responders, from the flu, other pathogens and more, explains a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
The program is called PREPARE, for PReemptive Expression of Protective Alleles and Response Elements.
It’s the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency that is overseeing the work.
“Inspired by recent advances in understanding of when and how genes express their traits, DARPA’s new … program will explore ways to better protect against biological, chemical, or radiological threats by temporarily and reversibly tuning gene expression to bolster the body’s defenses against – or directly neutralize – a given threat.”
The general population would be helped, but service members and first responders would especially benefit.
“Pathogens with pandemic potential, toxic chemicals, and radioactive materials can all quickly and powerfully overwhelm the body’s innate defenses,” the federal agency said. “And though significant public and private investment has been focused on the development of traditional medical countermeasures such as drugs, vaccines, and biologics to guard against the worst effects of these health threats, current countermeasures are often limited in their effectiveness and availability during emergencies.”
The new technologies, as envisioned, “would provide an alternative that preserves the genetic code exactly as it is and only temporarily modulates gene activity via the epigenome and transcriptome, which are the cellular messages that carry out DNA’s genetic instructions inside cells.”
“This would establish the capability to deliver programmable, but transient, gene modulators to confer protection within brief windows of time for meaningful intervention.”
“The human body is amazingly resilient. Every one of our cells already contains genes that encode for some level of resistance to specific health threats, but those built-in defenses can’t always express quickly or robustly enough to be effective,” said Renee Wegrzyn, the PREPARE program manager.