Biosafety concerns at U of Wisconsin Ebola lab

A University of Wisconsin researcher working with the Ebola virus operated his lab under lower biosafety standards than are required for working with the deadly pathogen, according to the Sunshine Project, an Austin-based biosafety watchdog group. A linkurl:press release;http://www.sunshine-project.org/publications/pr/pr190907.html posted on the group's Web site and an linkurl:AP report;http://www.madison.com/wsj/home/local//index.php?ntid=246861 filed late last night state that the lab, headed

By | September 20, 2007

A University of Wisconsin researcher working with the Ebola virus operated his lab under lower biosafety standards than are required for working with the deadly pathogen, according to the Sunshine Project, an Austin-based biosafety watchdog group. A linkurl:press release;http://www.sunshine-project.org/publications/pr/pr190907.html posted on the group's Web site and an linkurl:AP report;http://www.madison.com/wsj/home/local//index.php?ntid=246861 filed late last night state that the lab, headed by virologist Yoshi Kawaoka, was working with cDNAs of the virus, which don't replicate and thus cant cause infection. Although NIH regulations require all work with Ebola to be done under Biosafety Level 4 (BSL4) conditions, the group was working in a BSL3 lab. The level of safety they upheld had been approved by the institution, and the work was funded by the NIH. The NIH didn't realize the oversight until Kawaoka began petitioning UW to allow the work to proceed under BSL2 conditions, and the university turned to the agency for guidance. The research was suspended last year. The Sunshine Project is looking into a possibly similar incident at Tulane University in New Orleans, the release says. On Monday, the group linkurl:announced;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/53600/ it had uncovered a series of biosafety breaches at three University of Texas schools, some of which were never reported to the CDC.
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