Beyond the List: Bioagent-Agnostic Signatures Could Enable a More Flexible and Resilient Biodefense Posture than an Approach Based on Priority Agent Lists Alone
The Select Agents and Toxins list comprises agents that historic biological warfare programs weaponized or that have caused great harm in natural outbreaks. By definition, it elides consideration of novel pathogens and biotoxins, resulting in gaps in preparedness and biodefense. To fill this gap, the biodefense community should augment the current list-based paradigm by categorizing agents based on how they impact their hosts. Specifically, we propose integrating the results of multi-omics studies to identify bioagent-agnostic signatures (BASs) of disease—namely, patterns of biomarkers that accurately and reproducibly predict the impacts of infection or intoxication without prior knowledge of the causative agent. Here, we highlight three pathways that investigators might exploit as sources of signals to construct BASs and their applicability to this framework. Although we will need to forge robust interdisciplinary research teams to achieve this long-term vision a functionality-based BAS model is imperative to enable effective surveillance and treatment for known and novel agents alike.
Published: December 3, 2021
Leiser O.P., E.C. Hobbs, A.C. Sims, G.W. Korch, and K.L. Taylor. 2021.Beyond the List: Bioagent-Agnostic Signatures Could Enable a More Flexible and Resilient Biodefense Posture than an Approach Based on Priority Agent Lists Alone.Pathogens 10, no. 11:Art. No. 1497.PNNL-SA-166829.doi:10.3390/pathogens10111497