Biosecurity

COVID-19 killed at least 7 million people worldwide and brought economies to a standstill. But even this looks like a seasonal cold next to the deadliest pandemic in history: the Black Death killed 25%–50% of everyone in Europe. 

The most extreme biological risks stem from synthetic biology. Progress in synthetic biology will enable many biomedical breakthroughs, but it will also give many thousands of individuals the ability to ignite new pandemics. Even prior to modern biotechnology, the Soviet biological weapons programme attempted to weaponise Yersinia pestis, the pathogen which caused the Black Death.

This threat can be addressed, and there are multiple fronts of attack. On the technological front, the effects of future pandemics could be mitigated by innovations like more effective PPE and improved indoor air quality. Widespread broad-spectrum testing could allow us to detect pathogens early, and thus limit their spread. In policy, improving governance of dual-use technology can reduce the risk of a catastrophe occuring. And logistically, better contingency plans for future pandemics will ensure that these solutions, and others, will be implemented effectively by our institutions when they are needed.

Are you a major philanthropist seeking to learn more about these areas? Get in touch with our Co-CEOs Natalie Cargill and Simran Dhaliwal at natalie@longview.org and simran@longview.org

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SecureDNA
SecureDNA
Preventing the creation of bioweapons, securely and automatically

Today, anyone can order DNA from private companies, and it will only become faster and cheaper to do so in the coming years. Unfortunately, we don’t yet have a safe and efficient way to screen for DNA that could be used to manufacture a bioweapon. Current methods involve comparing potentially-dangerous sequences to a database of harmful sequences — effectively creating a public recipe book for bioweapons. SecureDNA aims to avert this danger. Scientists from MIT and Tsinghua University are creating technology that can quickly, automatically, and securely screen incoming DNA synthesis requests for potential threats. If successful, this project could make it far more difficult for malicious actors to create and release bioweapons, and could avert future pandemics. 

The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security
The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security
Researching new approaches in disease mitigation measures

The Center for Health Security is among the most influential health policy think tanks. When, in 2021, President Biden ordered the creation of a National Center for Epidemic Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics, it was the brainchild of the Center for Health Security, which had been campaigning for its creation since before the COVID-19 pandemic with Longview’s support. We have supported the Center’s work to strengthen global health security, study emerging infectious diseases and epidemics, improve medical and public health preparedness and response, and improve defences against deliberate biological threats.

Telis Bioscience
Telis Bioscience
Accelerating drug development for novel diseases

We supported Telis Bioscience, a startup aimed at radically accelerating drug development. Telis Bioscience soon merged with other teams to become Alvea: a pharmaceutical company that would set the world record for fastest startup to take a new drug into Phase 1 Clinical Trials when developing a new COVID-19 booster to protect against the Omicron variant.