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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

HHS pursues development of panels of blood-based biomarkers for several biothreat pathogens

Date: September 25, 2015

Organization: SRI International, headquartered in Menlo Park, California

Funding: $2.5 million for the base period (18 months) and up to a total of five years and $9.1 million if all options are exercised

About this project: 

With support from BARDA, SRI International of Menlo Park, California will pursue the development of clinically useful panels of blood-based biomarkers that could lead to faster and more accurate diagnostic tests for melioidosis, glanders, and plague.


Diagnosing biothreat pathogen infections quickly would help doctors and other healthcare workers isolate and provide necessary antibiotics and other supportive care to infected patients. The first phase of the contract will focus on melioidosis, followed by glanders and plague.

The pathogen responsible for melioidosis, Burkholderia pseudomallei, is widely found in water and soil in many tropical and subtropical regions. Infections vary from mild disease to overwhelming septicemia with up to 90 percent fatality rate within 24 to 48 hours after symptom onset. The current public health response to melioidosis infection is testing by cell culture with test results available no earlier than two to three days after sampling. Identification of biomarkers specific to infection can significantly accelerate the development of diagnostic assays with faster test results.

Under the agreement, SRI International will conduct studies necessary for initial biomarker development, identification, and characterization, as well as clinical sample analysis and evaluation.

The development of clinically useful panels of blood-based biomarkers is part of BARDA’s comprehensive integrated portfolio approach to the advanced research and development, innovation, acquisition, and manufacturing of vaccines, drugs, therapeutics, diagnostic tools, and non-pharmaceutical products for public health emergency threats. These threats include chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) agents, pandemic influenza, and emerging infectious diseases.

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  • This page last reviewed: August 05, 2020