DARPA's Pandemic Prevention Platform Could Develop Therapeutic "Shield" To Fight Covid-19 By Summer

The Pentagon's most secretive military research department is developing a therapeutic "shield" that could provide a new way to boost American's immunity to Covid-19, reported DefenseOne

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) Pandemic Prevention Platform (PPP) is not in search of a vaccine against the fast-spreading virus that is now considered a pandemic, but rather is developing an advanced therapy that seeks to boost the immune system of people until an actual vaccine is developed. The result could prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed by sick people. 

DARPA scientists working on PPP have been sequencing the B cells of a Covid-19 patient who has recovered. B cells, also known as B lymphocytes, are a type of white blood cell that produces antibodies that aid the immune system in its fight to fend off an invading microorganism.

"We are able to take a patient that has recovered from this pathogen [Covid-19], for example, and we are able to sequence many of their B cells. So those cells that make those antibodies that help protect you against those pathogens? We are now able to sequence all of those because of next-generation sequencing approaches," Dr. Amy Jenkins, manager of PPP, told DefenseOne. 

If scientists can successfully sequence the B cells, they could create a new therapy with a "manufacturing timeline" in a little over three months, Jenkins said. It would buy some time, considering a proven vaccine is 12-18 months away