Annex E. International Armaments Strategy
Army Science and Technology Master Plan (ASTMP 1997)


K. Biological Sciences

Basic research in the biological sciences contributes directly to a knowledge of food production in deployed areas, production of potable water, protection of military personnel from infectious agents in a deployed region, production of sensors for chemical and biological agents, reduction of signatures to increase stealth, and the production of materials useful in communications, sensing and self-assembly. Biomaterials have the ability to self-assemble (phospholipids), to transduce light and pressure to electrical signals, to encode large amounts of information in very small areas or volumes (the entire genetic information for a human resides in each cell nucleus which has a diameter of 5 micrometers (m m) or less).

Table E.III-10 summarizes international research capabilities in the technical areas of biological sciences. These include: 1) biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology; 2) microbiology, physiology and pharmacology; 3) biodegradative processes; 4) food science and 5) bioscience. Biochemistry, biophysics, and molecular biology examine the structural and functional properties of biopolymers (such as DNA and RNA) involved in information storage, the catalytic properties of proteins that function as enzymes, and the recognition properties of proteins that function as antibodies and receptors. The second area concerns the role of intact cells, cell membranes and ion fluxes across membranes in the operation of the intact organism. The third area addresses remediation of soil and water to produce potable end product and reduce signatures. The fourth investigates mechanisms to increase shelf life of food and the nutritional quality of food. The fifth area is concerned with the use of biopolymers as structural materials -- ceramics, silks, signal transducers, etc.

The Human Genome project utilizes biochemistry, biophysics, and molecular biology to explore questions of intrinsic disease susceptibility in humans and crops. These technologies also reveal the nature of molecules that allow viruses to infect cells and allow cells to communicate with each other (i.e. receptors). Since the effect of toxins on cells is a result of their action on specific cell receptors, these technologies reveal how we can neutralize toxins. The US, Canada, Japan, EC, Taiwan, China, Korea, Brazil, and Israel have capabilities in these areas.

Microbiology, physiology, and pharmacology are essential sciences in the production of fermented and processed foods (bread, yogurt, beer, wine), of pharmaceuticals and human hormones (the latter using genetic engineering), and in evaluating human performance (neural function, vital signs). The US, Japan, Germany, France, and Russia have a long tradition of expertise in these areas. The Russians had a developed expertise in the use of biological toxins to deliver molecules to specific cells. The Russian capability has decreased in many of these areas during the past five years but still remains strong in targeted delivery (associated with MOD laboratories). Hungary has an established capability in production of fermenters.

Remediation of soils and water, using biological organisms to metabolize contaminants, has been an area of extensive research in the past decade. The US, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Japan, and Israel have expertise in this area, with the US and Israel particularly active in water purification.

Table E.III-10. Biological Sciences

BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES UNITED KINGDOM FRANCE GERMANY OTHER COUNTRIES JAPAN PACIFIC RIM FSU
Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology Combinatorial chemistry,
Genome project,

Receptor characterization,
NMR
Genome project,

Receptor characterization
Combinatorial chemistry,
Genome project,
Receptor characterization
Netherlands
Transducer molecules,
NMR
Israel
Combinatorial chemistry,
Receptor characterization
Australia
Combinatorial chemistry

Genome project,
Receptor characterization,
NMR

  Russia Transducer molecules,
Receptor characterization
Microbiology, Physiology and Pharmacology

Microbial products for nutrition,
Stress resistance

Nutrient additives

Sensing mechanisms,
Nutrient additives

  Visual sensing,

Metabolic products
  Russia
Research in all areas
Biodegradative Processes Bioremediation Bioremediation Bioremediation,

Water purification
Israel
Bioremediation,

Water purification
Bioremediation  

Food Science Nutritional additives from microbiological products,
Protein stabilizers
Nutritional additives from microbiological products,
Protein stabilizers
Protein stabilizers,

Encapsulation,

Shelf life,

IR irradiation

Netherlands
Switzerland
Protein stabilizers,
Encapsulation,

Sugar modification

Protein stabilizers  

Biosciences PHB plasticizer,

Energy transduction,

Biomaterials for tensile strength
Energy transduction,

Biomaterials for tensile strength
Energy transduction,
Biomaterials for tensile strength,
Israel
Netherlands
Australia

Energy transduction,
Biomaterials for tensile strength
Biomaterials for tensile strength  

The preparation of nutritious, palatable foods with long shelf life and biodegradable containers is the focus of the fourth set of technologies. Biopolymers have been used as elastomers in food containers. Encapsulation and irradiation technologies have been used to increase shelf life and encapsulation also increases palatability. Most EC nations, Japan, and the US have advanced food technology programs. Strong capability in the use of biopolymers as packaging is primarily resides in the US and EC.

The use of biomaterials, as structural elements or as models to construct non-biological materials that function as biomimetics, has grown along with the demand for miniaturization. Polyhydroxybutyrate and silks are two examples of biomaterials with good tensile properties. New materials emerging from nanotube technology, ceramics based on marine shell structures and isolated bacterial rhodopsin (bR) have applications in signature reduction and information storage. Russia, in collaboration with the former DDR, utilized bR to construct a read/write device called Biochrome. The reduction in financial resources in the former Soviet Union (FSU) has caused a decline in this capability. A "Biochrome" material is currently available from Germany. The UK, Japan, France, Netherlands, Israel, and US also have strong capabilities in this area.