Are We Ready For A Biological Attack?

There has been much discussion by national security experts inside and outside of government as to how Congress and the President should ensure that the United States is safe from a terrorist attack.  But there has been relatively little discussion in comparison as to how we would respond if an attack did occur.  Are we ready for a biological attack on our military or citizenry?  Has the federal government planned for a medical response to an attack?  Are we spending money on the right therapies or vaccines?  Do we even know how to respond to a widespread biological or chemical attack on the United States or our allies?

The National Intelligence Council (NIC) has identified the threat of bioterrorism as the
most significant weapon of mass destruction (WMD) because the knowledge, equipment, and pathogen components required to construct biological weapons are now globally dispersed.  There is currently no single strategy to regulate or prevent the development of these threats.  Immense spending by U.S. government agencies to advance single-target drug and vaccine countermeasures against known bioterror threats has produced limited results and highlights an urgent need for new defensive strategies.

In response to these very real threats and the subsequent billions of dollars in spending, the Obama administration has announced a new biodefense plan that will fund “platform technologies” that apply to many different infectious disease threats.  The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which oversees all U.S. health agencies, has decreed that broad-spectrum therapies able to combat multiple pathogen threats will be the focal point of biodefense initiatives going forward.  Additionally, HHS has disclosed that it will discontinue policies that previously precluded support of dual-use therapies that may have commercial applications against disease conditions such as hepatitis-C virus (HCV) or cancer.

The medical community should respond with their best efforts.  Our response to these new questions has been to advance a Hemopurifier platform technology that selectively targets the removal of infectious viruses from the entire circulatory system before the occurrence of cell and organ infection.  We believe a Hemopurifier may be the most advanced and perhaps only true broad-spectrum countermeasure against viral threats most likely to be weaponized against civilian and military populations.

Single-target drug and vaccine strategies are clinically and economically problematic.  There are just too many threats and too many possible drug therapies to keep up.  The benefit of drug and vaccine countermeasures stockpiled by the U.S. government is also not fully understood.  Vaccine countermeasures expire every few years and need to be replenished.  Additionally, the initial purchase of a single-target countermeasure alone can exceed $1 billion and there is no guarantee that once a vaccine is developed that it would not then develop a resistance to the drug.  We simply do not have enough money or researchers available to keep up with the many options that a biological attack would produce.

A Hemopurifier provides a post-exposure treatment strategy to mitigate illness, suffering, and death resulting from exposure to biological weapons.  The device removes and concentrates viruses from the entire circulatory system and could literally save thousands of lives effected by bioterror.  To date, safety of the device has been demonstrated in 68 human treatment experiences, which also validated the ability of the device to reduce viral loads in patients infected with HCV and HIV.  Collaboration for this post-exposure solution has been conducted with the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) located at Fort Detrick, Maryland, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); The National Institute of Virology (NIV) and a number of other leading medical organizations. 

The highest priority for Congress and the President should be to develop defense programs that can guard against a terrorist attack ever happening.  But should we find ourselves in the terrible position of having to respond to a biological attack, the unprecedented broad-spectrum capabilities of a Hemopurifier is one solution that could be used to treat victims in the United States and ally nations.


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