Securing the future against catastrophic pandemics
SARS-CoV-2 has demonstrated that the world is profoundly vulnerable to biological threats. Unfortunately, there is reason to believe that future pandemics could be far worse. Due to rapid advances in biotechnology, the number of people able to create and release dangerous pathogens will quickly increase over the coming years. The world is unprepared for widespread access to such powerful technology.
To defend ourselves against these dangers, we must begin preparation now. SecureBio's in-house team of researchers and technologists work with experts in academia, industry and government to develop new technologies and policy proposals to delay, detect, and defend against any catastrophic pandemic, whether natural or engineered.
Together, we can create a future that is secure against the threat of pandemic pathogens. If you want to help build that future, consider reading more about our projects & publications, or applying to our open positions.
Effectively securing the world against biological threats requires a three-pronged approach
Denial & deterrence can slow the spread of capabilities
Causing harm requires blueprints and materials as well as know-how. By restricting proliferation of dangerous pathogen genomes, screening synthesis of custom DNA, and deterring actors capable of sharing new hazards, we can buy time to implement effective pandemic defenses.
Reliable early response requires reliable early warning
Early detection of outbreaks can profoundly reduce the harm they cause, but existing biosurveillance methods are often slow and unreliable. To reliably detect any future pandemic, we need new tools and techniques capable of robust, pathogen-agnostic early detection.
The most reliable way to protect against pandemics is to prevent infection
Developing new vaccines and therapeutics is extremely expensive and unacceptably slow. To reliably defend against an unknown future pandemic, we must look beyond biomedicine, to physical and institutional interventions that can block transmission and ensure civilizational resilience.
Founded as a collaboration between academics and developers in the US, China and Europe, the SecureDNA initiative develops fast, secure, and comprehensive software for screening DNA synthesis orders. Recently spun out into an independent Swiss foundation, SecureDNA aims to provide reliable, free, privacy-preserving, and politically-neutral screening services to providers and device manufacturers across the world.
Nucleic Acid Observatory
A collaboration between SecureBio and MIT’s Sculpting Evolution group, the Nucleic Acid Observatory project aims to pioneer reliable, pathogen-agnostic early warning of future pandemics through untargeted metagenomic sequencing of wastewater. Where other wastewater monitoring programs are focused on known pathogens like SARS-CoV-2, the NAO is focused on detecting new and unknown pathogens as sensitively and reliably as possible – including those with very long incubation times or that otherwise evade detection. That means taking a new approach to wastewater monitoring, including the development of novel experimental and computational tools.
Far-UVC (Low-Wavelength Light)
Most disease transmission occurs indoors, but our built environment is rarely designed with pandemic safety in mind. Far-UVC, a form of low-wavelength light that can kill pathogens with little to no penetration of human skin, could enable powerful and safe suppression of all respiratory diseases in indoor settings. In collaboration with experts and academics across the world, SecureBio is working to develop and propel research to establish far-UVC's safety and efficacy, update health and safety guidelines to match new evidence, and raise awareness of this promising new technology.