High Security Labs Await Go-Ahead to Conduct Research

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Global Security Newswire Staff
Aug. 7, 2013, 12:02 p.m.

Newly con­struc­ted labs at Fort De­t­rick were ex­amined by in­spect­ors for the Cen­ter for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion in May, and are now await­ing re­port res­ults, the Fort De­t­rick News-Post re­por­ted.

Peter Jahrling, who dir­ects the new site, known as the Na­tion­al In­sti­tute of Al­lergy and In­fec­tious Dis­eases’ In­teg­rated Re­search Fa­cil­ity, said he and his col­leagues are “wait­ing with eager an­ti­cip­a­tion for those res­ults.”

Fed­er­al ap­prov­al would al­low labs at the site to work with “se­lect agents” — tox­ic and reg­u­lated ma­ter­i­als that lack any known treat­ment op­tions.

Re­search at the fa­cil­ity has been go­ing on for three years in a Biosafety Level 2 lab space, which al­lows for po­ten­tially a mod­er­ate haz­ard to work­ers or the en­vir­on­ment, ac­cord­ing to the re­port. The new spaces would po­ten­tially al­low for Biosafety Level 3 and 4 labor­at­or­ies, which handle leth­al sub­stances.

The fa­cil­ity’s re­search will fo­cus primar­ily on vir­al patho­gens, ac­cord­ing to the news­pa­per, and the over­all fa­cil­ity will em­ploy nearly 120 people once all of the labs are open.

A CDC spokes­wo­man would not give a time­frame for when the level 3 and 4 labs might re­ceive fed­er­al ap­prov­al to work with se­lect agents.

An­oth­er lab as­so­ci­ated with the Na­tion­al In­sti­tutes of Health re­cently in­ven­ted a device that could be used in hos­pit­als to de­tect with­in 15 minutes wheth­er a pa­tient was ex­posed to a po­ten­tial bi­o­ter­ror agent