IARPA Awards Signature Science, LLC. And Macromoltek, INC Prestigious Fungcat BAA
For Advancing Screening of New Biothreats
Sept. 25, 2017
The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, has announced that the Southwest Research Institute subsidiary, Signature Science, LLC (www.signaturescience.com), with expert software consultation from Austin-based Macromoltek (www.macromoltek.com), has been selected for a highly-competitive business associate agreement (BAA) for its Functional Genomic and Computational Assessment of Threats (Fun GCAT) program. As use of DNA-based biotechnologies continue to expand, there is a pressing need for sophisticated methods to assess the health and environmental risks of synthetic DNA. Specifically, DNA sequences submitted to oligonucleotide companies are usually processed without any screening, leaving a risk that malicious actors will attempt to use their services to aid in producing toxic biomolecules. Existing bioinformatic screening methods for assessing the threat potential of unknown genes and synthetic DNA sequences are cumbersome, ineffective, and costly. These existing technologies rely on comparing genetic conservation of unknown genes which fails to include structural and functional information about their encoded proteins. The Fun GCAT program aims to develop innovative computational methods to improve screening methods that allow for rapid detection and risk analysis of unknown biomaterials. The Signature Science-led team plans to develop a powerful computational algorithm that uses both genomic DNA sequences and protein structure prediction to determine if short sequences of unknown DNA match with any known pathogens or biotoxins. Macromoltek will support the efforts of Signature Science by working to integrate the structure prediction capabilities into the computational package. This set of tools will allow for more accurate analysis of threat potential and an increased ability to screen unknown gene sequences. About Signature Science, LLC A subsidiary of the Southwest Research Institute, Signature Science, LLC is a scientific and technical consulting firm providing multi-disciplinary applied research, technology design and development, and scientific, technical, and operational services to government and industry. About Macromoltek Macromoltek helps biotech and pharmaceutical companies reduce the cost and time to market of new drugs by moving experiments to the cloud. We are focused on reducing the time, money and effort spent learning and using computational tools for drug development, especially in the area of protein molecular modeling. We offer an online workspace for antibody analysis and antibody modeling where users can store their data securely and access it at any time, from anywhere. Through our workspaces, users access state-of-the-art tools to manipulate their data and increase their understanding of the structures, leading to faster and cheaper biologics drugs. www.macromoltek.com This effort is supported by the U.S. Army Research Office. The content of this release does not necessarily reflect the position or the policy of the Government, and no official endorsement should be inferred.