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Global Security Newswire

Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues

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U.S. Seeks New Tools to Fight Hardiest Bacteria

The U.S. Defense Department is seeking scientists to pursue new drug technology for fighting the hardiest bacteria with bioterrorism potential, USA Today reports.

The Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency this week issued a request for information on the possible creation of "small organic molecules inhibitors" to fight multiple-drug-resistant bacteria, including those designated as "Tier 1" select agents, the newspaper said on Thursday. High-risk bacteria on the 11-agent list include anthrax, plague and the organisms that cause glanders and melioidosis.

The solicitation says respondents already should have completed Phase 1 clinical trials of their proposed products, or be at an "advanced" stage in the testing. Such trials seek to establish the safety of drug candidates.

The Pentagon request marked a new step in a long-running effort to prepare against potential biological and chemical threats from extremists, as well as possible disaffected government insiders, according to USA Today.

The United States established the Tier 1 agents list in a 2010 presidential executive order. The move established special safety and security precautions for handling biological materials that fall into the category.

Organisms on the list pose "the greatest risk of deliberate misuse with most significant potential for mass casualties or devastating effects to the economy, critical infrastructure or public confidence," the White House mandate states.

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