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Laboratories Team Up to Develop BSL 4 Level Screening Platform

Southern Research Institute and the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston will collaborate to develop and validate a high-volume, high-throughput screening (HTS) platform in the Galveston National Laboratory (GNL) Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) laboratory. The partnership will provide the opportunity for disease screening in the highest level of biocontainment facility, in an effort to seek out new therapeutics in the fight against pathogens that create public health and biodefense threats.

GNL operates one of two National Biocontainment Laboratories constructed under grants awarded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The facility is certified to work with some of the most contagious and dangerous pathogens on the planet in the pursuit of developing therapies, vaccines and diagnostic tests for bioterror agents or highly pathogenic infectious diseases.

Southern Research has extensive experience in platform and assay development for HTS formats, currently conducted at their own BSL-3 laboratories. The organization first developed its BSL-3 HTS platform over seven years ago in response the SARS outbreak and the federal government’s request to increase screening and drug discovery in infectious diseases. Since then, Southern Research has successfully conducted thousands of compound screening campaigns in BSL-3 high containment.

The HTS experience of Southern Research combined with the unique resources of GNL provide a great outlook for the partnership. Researchers at both institutions will benefit from the collaborative effort to facilitate and enhance screening for candidate compounds that are effective against highly-pathogenic viruses.

“Being able to exploit high-throughput screening options against diseases like Ebola and Nipah viruses in a BSL-4 lab in an academic setting is quite a unique opportunity,” said Dr. Thomas G. Ksiazek, GNL Director of High Containment Operations.

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