RGCB to establish BSL 4 facility

Facility allows handling of extremely dangerous pathogens

The Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) is setting up a BSL 4 testing and research facility here at ₹100 crore.

M. Radhakrishna Pillai, director of RGCB, said a decision to this effect had been taken at the institution’s governing council meeting, which was held on March 6.

A BSL-4 facility is the highest level of biosafety containment facility available today to handle extremely dangerous pathogens that can cause severe and serious life-threatening illness in humans that have no treatment or preventive measures.

A BSL-4 facility support study of diseases such as Nipah, H5N1 Avian influenza, Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic fever, Ebola, and many others.

Only two so far

There are only two such laboratories in India, the National Institute of Virology, Pune, which is a dedicated facility for the study of human pathogens, and the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory, Bhopal, a dedicated facility that studies animal pathogens.

Establishing a BSL-4 laboratory was not an easy task given the stringent international standards and safety precautions that had to be met apart from the high cost of training personnel and maintenance.

While approving the proposal, RGCB’s governing council made a special note of the ongoing internationally recognised research and development programmes in pathogenic viruses in the RGCB, including those on human and avian influenza, measles, Chandipura virus, chikungunya and dengue.

The Department of Health Research, Government of India, had informed the Department of Biotechnology that should the current COVID-19 outbreaks intensified in Kerala, the services of the RGCB would be used, Dr. Pillai said in a statement here.

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