Texas spends for bioterrorism center

Texas will spend $50 million to develop a new center to protect against bioterrorism attacks. it also will be used to research and develop medications to combat diseases such as cancer, diabetes and influenza.

The first of its kind in the United States, the National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing is funded through the Texas Emerging Technology program at in the Texas A&M University System.

The facility is “designed to incorporate any new technology that comes down the pike,” said Brett Giroir, a physician and vice chancellor for research in the A&M system. “We tried to design it to be very modular” to accommodate multiple technologies that can be implemented simultaneously and in a replaceable manner, from large to small scale, Giroir said.

The center plans to collect data in a sharable format; planning is being done with 3-D computer models that will be shared using standard formats, Giroir said. “We are trying to make a prototype to change the industry as we know it,” he said. “Collecting data in a digital format that can potentially be used by a number of users is critically important.”

The “flexible-by-design” manufacturing system will allow rapid production of drugs in targeted quantities, a change from conventional manufacturing plans that specialize in mass production of one type of drug. The system will be created through collaboration between academic researchers and commercial companies.

“This center will serve as a critical prototype for improving the nation’s ability to develop new vaccines and therapeutics in an accelerated and cost-effective manner,” Giroir said. “It will be especially important in the larger goal of protecting our nation and citizens from the threat of bio-terror weapons such as anthrax and Ebola virus.”

The center will become part of a biomedical cluster that will include the Texas Institute for Genomic Medicine and the Texas Institute for Pre-Clinical Studies.

About the Authors

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

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