IARPA's focus on biological technologies
The Intelligence Advanced Research Project Activity (IARPA) sits within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and supports the Intelligence Community (IC) by delivering innovative technology for future overwhelming intelligence advantage. To ensure the success of this mission, IARPA addresses cross-agency challenges, leverages both operational and R&D expertise from across the IC, and coordinates transition strategies with agency partners. Recent programs from IARPA, including FELIX, Proteos, and RaDNAS, are focused on genome editing and synthetic biology tools and technologies.
- Proteos: Although DNA is foundation for forensic science, it’s recovered in low quantities and as a part of a mixture, making analysis complicated. Proteins, on the other hand, are also related to biological traces and are much more stable. The Proteos Program analyzes the correlation between polymorphisms in the proteome, or genetically variable peptides (GVPs), and non-synonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to relate an individual with a particular object, event, or location.
- RaDNAS: IARPA has also released a request for information (RFI) on Rapid Detection Nucleic Acid Signatures (RaDNAS). Even though DNA sequencing methods do not provide acceptable uses for field work, nanopore-based sequencing allows label-free sample preparation, lower DNA quantity requirements, and the capacity for technology miniaturization. IARPA is interested in examining nanopore-based approaches for DNA sequencing including both benchtop and hand-held devices for identification and characterization of human and pathogen genomes.
- FELIX: Gene editing has made biological engineering more accessible and less inexpensive, but could also pose a threat to national security, the economy, and general public. The FELIX program is working toward being able to detect genetically engineered changes in biological systems to facilitate appropriate responses to any unlawful or accidental release of organisms.
SMI is supporting clients in pursuing R&D funding through IARPA and other components of the IC. Let us know how we can help.