Future soldiers may be armed against biological weapons with common parasites

In the future, military units rely on parasites after the U.S. government has given two Australian researchers about $ 2.5 million (A $ 3.4 million) to study the potential of worms and other parasites. Can protect against enemy weapons. Supports the fight against chemical and biological weapons.

Professor Alex Loukas and Dr. Paul Giacomin of James Cook University will investigate the use of helminths, a parasite that infects up to 2 billion people worldwide, funded by the US Government’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Protect military personnel from biological terrorist agents.

“Your naturally occurring wild-type’hook worm’secretes nothing that naturally protects against bioterrorist agents such as anthrax and Ebola virus,” Loukas told AAP. “The worm’s genome can be manipulated to secrete therapeutic molecules that protect it from a variety of bioterrorists.”

Loukas, a molecular parasitologist, hopes that the project will reduce the amount of equipment military and medical first responders need to carry or wear to protect themselves from bioterrorist agents in conflict zones. Said.

Epoch Times Photo
On May 2, 2020, U.S. soldiers lay their mobile radios sideways as Russian military vehicles can be seen behind along the road near the village of Tannuriya in the eastern countryside of Qamishli in the province of Hasaka in northeastern Syria. I use them side by side. Souleiman / AFP / Getty Images)

He has been working on infecting Australian volunteers with hookworms for over a decade, but this new, untested study is the first time a genetically modified worm has been tested.

“It’s certainly a collaboration with colleagues in the US and Europe who are doing the genetic engineering side in particular,” he said.

“We bring expertise to the project on experimental human transmission by parasites.”

Loukas says that as military technology advances, the threat of bioterrorism becomes more realistic, and “having an internal biological solution to counter the threat when it suddenly appears” is a clear advantage. Stated.

Six other international universities and companies are participating in multi-million dollar programs. The program was originally conceived by Lucas and his US colleague, Professor Paul Blindley of George Washington University.

JCU’s funding is part of a $ 16.4 million (A $ 22.3 million) contract awarded to R & D firm Charles River Analytics by DARPA, the US government.