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August 06, 2009

British Anti-RPG Cloth,DARPA Instant Wound Healing Project and Genetic Blood Test for Early Infection Detection

1. Scientists have identified a genomic "signature" in circulating blood that reveals exposure to common upper respiratory viruses, like the cold or flu, even before symptoms appear.

The discovery could lead to dramatic changes in the way doctors care for the millions of people who develop upper respiratory infections every year. Ginsburg says the symptoms of a cold, the flu or pneumonia can appear similar, but right now, doctors can't tell what the patient really has until laboratory tests are conducted, and that can take days.

This approach could lead to more precise, informed and tailored therapy – essentially, personalized care for infectious disease. That's better for the patient and better for public health, in general.

Zaas and colleagues recruited 57 healthy volunteers who agreed to be inoculated with either a live cold virus (rhinovirus), the respiratory syncytial virus, or the influenza A virus. Researchers first took detailed baseline measures of genomic profiles in participants' blood, nasal fluid, breath and urine, and then inoculated the volunteers with one of the three viruses. They waited to see who became sick, and noted when symptoms first appeared, measuring markers of biological response at multiple time points after exposure. Volunteers were quarantined during the time they were infectious.

The research team studied changes in gene expression patterns in the participants' blood and identified 30 genes – many of which were already known to be active in the body's response to viral infections – whose expression patterns changed only among those who became symptomatic.

Investigators tested this "acute respiratory viral signature" in an independently acquired data set of gene expression patterns among people infected with influenza A and found that the signature was able to clearly distinguish with 100 percent accuracy between individuals who were infected and those who were not.


2. A shaped charge only works if it's detonated at the correct stand-off distance from the surface of the armour. This is done by having the detonator mounted ahead of the cone; in the case of an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade) at the tip of the streamlined nose put on the end of the warhead in order to make it fly straight. TARIAN replaces metal bars or slats with super-strong, tough textile. The TARIAN cloth is stretched taut enough that it can, apparently, trigger an RPG just as well as a bar kit.

DARPA has announced that it intends to give Amsafe a $100,000 sole-source order for thirty "test articles". According to the military boffins "the proprietary Amsafe net technology shows unique promise in successfully defeating RPGs



3. The vision for the DARPA Restorative Injury Repair (RIR) Program is to fully restore the function of complex tissue (muscle, nerves, skin, etc.) after traumatic injury on the battlefield.

Phase I effort focused on defining the wound environment and generating a blastema in an otherwise non-regenerating animal. This work will be followed by a Phase II effort, which will culminate in the restoration of a functional multi-tissue structure in a mammal.


From Wired Magazine: Darpa’s solicitation: 85 percent of recent wartime injuries involved damage to the extremities and facial regions. That often means multiple surgeries, rehab and permanent disability for vets. They’re hoping to eliminate the injuries, and their long-term consequences, with a system that can reproduce in vitro tissues with the same structural and mechanical properties of the real stuff. And maybe make better versions: Darpa wants implanted results that will “replace, restore or improve tissue/organ function.”

Phase II of the project will see animal testing of the most promising systems. And Darpa foresees eventual use by military and civilian populations.


Restorative Injury Repair is on page 46 of this 57 page DARPA Strategic Plan Pdf document

The goal of the Restorative Injury Repair (RIR) program is to fully restore the function of complex tissue, such as muscle, nerves, and skin, after traumatic injury on the battlefield. These injuries include penetrating wounds as well as chemical and thermal burns, and musculoskeletal and blast overpressure injuries. RIR aims to replace nature’s process of “wound coverage” by fibrosis and scarring with true “wound healing” by regenerating fully differentiated, functional tissue at the wound site.

Improvements in body armor and medical care have increased the chances of survival, but also have led to more limb amputations. While current prosthetic leg technology is good and improving, prosthetic arm technology, involving so many more joints and movements, as well as the combined abilities to touch, sense, and manipulate fine objects, is much more challenging.

The ultimate goal of DARPA’s flagship prosthetics program, Revolutionizing Prosthetics, is to transform upper extremity prosthetics, specifically arms and hands, by developing a prosthetic arm that can be directly controlled by the brain, and which provides the manual dexterity and sensation brain feedback equivalent to a natural hand or arm.

DARPA has been making rapid progress toward this goal. Clinical trials have already begun at Walter Reed and Brooke Army Medical Centers with an intermediate-stage prototype arm that, while not neurally controlled and with less capability than the ultimate goal, is already the best in the world (Figure 34). For some patients who do not need or want a neurally controlled prosthetic, this prototype could constitute a quite satisfactory, practical, and perhaps even preferred long-term solution.


CNN Vital signs video on the restoration injury repair project

FURTHER READING
DARPA Highlights

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