The National Bio Agro Defense Facility in Manhattan has several departments working against the spread of foreign animal disease outbreaks.
Director of NBAF’s Biologics Development Module, Steve Witte, says that biologics development means they are not working on pharmaceuticals which would require chemical processes, but instead the department is working with biologics which is things like vaccines and antibody therapies.
“We’re basically going to take the basic research being done at the USDA and turn it into applied science,” Witte says.
Witte says that science then becomes shared with industry partners to help prevent foreign animal disease outbreaks throughout the world.
“We take the basic research that gets done and see if we can scale that up, that means if we can make it at a scale that would approach a manufacturing facility, and that is really what our industry partners are interested in- can they make it and can they make it affordably?”
Witte says the affordability is important, especially for the BDM, because their focus is on the industry. While his department takes a larger focus on the distribution, rather than the research, he says it’s still important that they work closely with the research team.
“The NBAF researchers will bring their expertise through the use of novel platforms for the development of vaccines through transboundary animal diseases.”
Witte adds that, the research then intertwines with their industry focus.
“We guide those researchers in how to make those discoveries more scalable,” Witte adds. “So how to make them in such a fashion that we can have countermeasures ready in case there’s an outbreak here in the US or anywhere else in the world.”
Witte tells KMAN that with the research and distribution in the Biologics Development Module, they focus on biologics which is things like vaccines and antibody therapies rather than pharmaceuticals which would require chemical processes. He talks more about the role of the BDM in the vaccine development.
“Researchers can make a vaccine on a small scale and then we can test it in the lab, and having the access to NBAF and being in the heart of it, we are able to quickly work on the animal interest, the host animal for the disease.”
Witte says after the research steps is when the BDM comes into play the most.
“If we can take that process, we can show a partner that we can make this vaccine at a reasonable cost in a reasonable amount of time, then they’ll be more confident in taking that on and making a product that they can sell in the outside world.”
To learn more about NBAF and the BDM, visit usda.gov/nbaf.