The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) awarded Austin, TX-based Signature Science, LLC a $2.9M contract for the development of new computational tools to screen DNA sequences to detect biological threats that may manifest from synthetic microbial manipulation, Signature Science announced September 22.
Researchers from Signature Science, Fraunhofer Center for Experimental Software Engineering, Macromoltek, University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, Bioinformatics Core of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, and ATUM will combine complementary expertise to develop advanced tools to predict and prevent the accidental or intentional creation of synthetic biological threats.
The challenge is to overcome the speed and precision limitations of contemporary synthetic DNA screening practices to rapidly detect and isolate a prospective threat within a segment of DNA. The research team will re-tool bio-threat detection methods, and focus detection efforts on functional genetic elements to increase analytic speed and precision, thereby dramatically improving predictive capacity to isolate the toxic gene that constitutes the threat. The multi-disciplinary team is comprised of molecular biologists, biochemists, geneticists, bioinformatics specialists, statisticians, computer programmers, and software engineers.
Source: Signature Science