MOSCOW, October 6 (RIA Novosti) - A high-security laboratory in Boston built to study the world's deadliest pathogens including the Ebola virus, nears its approval to begin research, The Boston Globe reported Monday.
"There are superb scientists anxious to get on with their work," Jean L. Patterson, a scientist at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio, who has been following the Boston lab's struggle to open, was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
"This has been their life's dream to work on these pathogens," the scientist added.
The $200 million facility known as a Biosafety Level 4 laboratory, faces a review by the Boston Public Health Commission and an inspection by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before becoming operational, The Boston Globe reported. The research lab, built by Boston University (BU), has been awaiting approval since its design 11 years ago and has been challenged by lawsuits and public hearings from those opposed to the facility.
"This lab is not needed and there are many, many other things they could be studying," a senior science fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, Lynn C. Klotz was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
Klotz believes research and funding should be put into more common diseases such as AIDS rather than exceedingly expensive Level 4 labs created to research deadly organisms lacking vaccines or treatments. Klotz and other critics also fear the lab may conduct experiments in manipulating the genes of pathogens thus making them more dangerous, however BU has denied plans of such research.
A risk assessment by the environmental consulting firm Tetra Tech found the risk of infections to the public from the BU lab to be "extremely low or beyond reasonably foreseeable."
Should the lab be approved, the hemorrhagic fevers, Ebola and Marburg, will be the first microbes studied.
Over the years, the university has obtained more than 50 permits or approvals from federal, state, and city agencies for the lab, and won two lawsuits aimed to block the facility, and in May persuaded the Boston City Council to reject a proposed ordinance banning Level 4 labs. Upon approval, the new facility would be the 11th Level 4 lab in the United States and the second at a university academic medical center.