National Center for Biodefense Collaborates on Research to Benefit U.S. Troops

Posted: August 8, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Patty Snellings

The National Center for Biodefense (NCBD) and Ganeden Biotech Inc. are engaged in collaborative research on probiotics and immune system therapies that holds significant promise for U.S. military personnel. The research involves antimicrobial and antifungal applications for the development of health care products that can be used during training and deployment of troops, both as a prophylaxis and a treatment for noncombat-related illnesses. Another facet of the research looks at immune modulation, a process that seeks to enhance the time for effective treatment between a soldier’s exposure to a pathogen and the onset of infection, known as the “golden time.”

“This partnership is an opportunity for George Mason and Ganeden Biotech to establish a bolder presence in the research and treatment of infectious diseases,” says Ken Alibek, NCBD’s executive director for education, who also chairs Ganeden’s scientific advisory board.

Probiotics — human-friendly bacteria that live in the body’s intestinal tract — are necessary to maintain good health and fight illness. Ganeden recently developed a probiotic antidiarrheal product for military field use, and NCBD and Ganeden have applied for federal funding to develop new therapies for military use. They also will study the multiple benefits of probiotics in immune system enhancement and in preventing and treating diseases.

“Obtaining joint funding and combining our scientific and physical resources, allows us to build the critical mass that is necessary to undertake research of this caliber,” says Vikas Chandhoke, associate dean for science in the College of Arts and Sciences.

As part of the collaboration, Ganeden has relocated its military and federal programs division to the Prince William Campus, a move that consolidates research and development operations from California and a nearby Virginia location. The company is based in Ohio, with other divisions in Florida and Maryland.

“We are elated at the synergy with George Mason in using the concept of probiotics and natural remedies for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases,” says Paul Locigno, Ganeden’s chief executive officer. “For an emerging biotechnology company such as Ganeden, this relationship is a milestone in the development of immune-enhancing therapies.”

NCBD and Ganeden officials also are involved in talks with Taiwan government leaders and potential strategic partners about ways to further develop the region’s biotechnology industry. Additional meetings will take place in Taipei later this month.

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