DOD looking proposals for next-gen nanostructured smart drug delivery materials | The American Ceramic Society

DOD looking proposals for next-gen nanostructured smart drug delivery materials

Artist’s rendering of example of nanostructured silica (orange) as a drug delivery vehicle. Credit: PNNL, Univ. of Washington.

Viktoria Greanya is the senior manager for nanomaterials research for a part of DOD’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency that focuses on chemical and biological technologies (DTRA CB). Greanya’s group is looking for proposals related to developing what she terms Nanostructured Active Therapeutic Vehicles that can be used in two specific applications—NATVs for protection against certain nerve agents and deliver antibiotics to fight a gram-negative pathogen—and Greanya have asked us to publicize solicitation for proposals:

The DTRA CB is looking to fund research in its Nanostructured Active Therapeutic Vehicles program to develop nanostructured material vehicles capable of active detection of insult/threat and release of in vivo therapeutic payloads in prophylactic or pre-symptomatic administration of targeted therapies. If successful, this research will not only demonstrate proof of concept delivery in two areas of high priority chem–bio defense need but also develop broadly applicable material design and fabrication capabilities. The program is expected to have a wide-ranging impact on in-vivo and in-vitro technologies, such as implants, therapeutics, detection and diagnostics.

Fine tuning of, morphology, charge, and functionalization and other features of nanomaterials provides a number of available “knobs” that can be used to functionally optimize these materials for their use and operation within the human body. The addition of targeting moieties to these systems enables direction of the therapeutic payload directly to the cell, tissue or organ in need potentially reducing required dosage and toxicity. In addition, nanomaterials can be designed to sense and respond to stimuli, which offer the tantalizing possibility of prophylactic or presymptomatic treatment without the concern of exposing the body unnecessarily to potential harsh side effects.

The ability to develop a therapeutic carrier, or vehicle, for delivery in the body, and to control the location, duration, and behavior of the therapeutic once it enters the body, has produced a significant amount of work relating to cancer therapies. However, the concerns of the DOD’s Chemical and Biological Defense Program relate to acute insults. These threats, such as nerve agent or pathogenic organism exposure, may have extremely short treatment windows, where onset of symptoms is already too late to avoid incapacitation, debilitation or death. To be effective as a mitigation and/or countermeasure strategy for DOD’s needs, active therapeutic vehicles must be designed for prophylactic or presymptomatic application, which thus far have received little attention.

Research will focus in two specific areas: delivery systems for small-molecule antibiotics to fight against Gram-negative bacterial pathogens and delivery systems for the large-molecule bioscavenger butyrylcholinesterase (BuChE) to deliver broad spectrum protection against nerve agents. By the conclusion of the 48-month program, researchers will be able to show how they will improve circulation times by an order of magnitude or better, sense and release therapeutic payloads on trigger, and improve performance compared to current treatments.

DTRA CB is currently soliciting innovative multidisciplinary proposals. The NATV solicitations can be found in Amendment 30 to the DTRA-Chemical and Biological Broad Agency Announcement (HDTRA1-12-CHEM-BIO-BAA), and Amendment 8 to the DTRA-Fundamental Research Broad Agency Announcement (HDTRA1-09-14-FRCWMD-BAA) or via the DTRA-CB Service call (by request). Eligibility requirements for each solicitation differ, please read the solicitations carefully. Questions can be sent via email to NATV.

Greanya can also be contacted via her email.