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Feds want to deal you in on biotech projects

The United States has a powerful set of rules and requirements for new medical procedures and medications, with good reason. They protect patients, explains a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

But it’s also very expensive to determine a need, propose an entirely new treatment or medicine, and run it through the gauntlet of development, testing and approval.

So the government often steps in with research, testing and experimentation.

But even the government wants help occasionally in its efforts to develop new science, and it now is asking for help from academia, industry, investment groups and others to move biotech to the next level.

“Biotechnology is a 21st century science with the potential to transform the national security landscape and spark the industries of the future, much as aerospace engineering, materials science, microelectronics, and computer and information science shaped the late 20th century,” said Justin Sanchez.

He’s director of the Biological Technologies Office of the federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which recently held a series of discussions in Menlo Park, California, to identify ways to speed innovations that are being made in the lab to patients and consumers.

“DARPA’s work in this space has been extremely productive, but moving from technology demonstration to application and maintaining the United States’ first-mover advantage requires the larger science and technology ecosystem to be involved. DARPA and its colleagues across academia, industry, and the investment community must work together to investigate, refine, and develop innovations so that they benefit society at large,” the organization explained.

It said it considers biotech now the “breakthrough opportunity space.”

With that goal in mind, DARPA held two days of talks on “ways to speed innovations from the lab to patients, consumers and national security practitioners.”

The meeting showcased several current programs on which BTO is working, including precedent-setting projects in synthetic biology, gene editing, personalized medicine, infectious diseases management and neurotechnology.

The government often is a pioneer in these fields, since there is a high level of technological risk – not to mention initial investment – involved.

“In areas such as memory enhancement, real-time health monitoring, living materials, and brain-machine interfaces, the barriers to entry are numerous and many investors are hesitant to take a risk on an unproven idea. In pursuing its mission of gaining a deep understanding of new technologies’ function and potential, DARPA eliminates many of those barriers and much of the risk,” Sanchez said.

For the rest of this report, and more, please go to Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.