Posted BY: Bill | NwoReport
Scientists are developing an innovative “early warning system” in Africa, powered by CRISPR gene-editing technology, to identify and characterize deadly pathogens before they become global threats. Known as Sentinel, this surveillance system has received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other sources, utilizing digital health tools created through the support of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Pardis Sabeti, M.D., D.Phil., and Christian Happi, Ph.D., lead the development of Sentinel. They are patenting the technology to commercialize it in the U.S. Sabeti, a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and Harvard professor, collaborates with Christian Happi, a professor at Redeemer’s University in Nigeria. Together, they aim to revolutionize disease surveillance by enabling rapid testing at various locations, including non-clinical settings, across rural Africa. This approach would allow pathogens’ identification and genetic sequencing, with cloud-based technology facilitating information sharing among global public health researchers.
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The Sentinel project, initiated in 2020, was launched with support from various organizations, including the Gates Foundation and DARPA. However, concerns about the project’s funding sources and potential military connections have been raised. Critics suggest synthetic biology research funded by DARPA could be exploited to develop bioweapons.
Sentinel’s critical intervention is the SHINE diagnostic tool, utilizing CRISPR gene-editing technology for rapid point-of-care testing. The program aims to enable early detection of pathogens and provide quick information dissemination to public health officials and researchers for further action, including vaccine and treatment development. If the SHINE test fails to detect pathogens, the CARMEN test is used, capable of screening up to 16 pathogens simultaneously. Sentinel has gained attention due to its potential to change the landscape of disease surveillance by involving “everyday Africans” and community workers as sentinels. Despite its promising goals, concerns are raised about the program’s funding, partnerships, and potential for diversion of resources from more pressing health issues.
Pardis Sabeti and Christian Happi have been at the forefront of viral hemorrhagic fever research in Africa, including Lassa virus and Ebola. Their work has contributed to the development of Sentinel, which they believe has the potential to empower communities and improve disease surveillance globally. However, critics urge caution regarding the project’s origins, funding sources, and impact on global health priorities. As Sentinel’s development continues, discussions about its potential benefits and risks are ongoing.