Request Quote
Untitled

Scientific Laboratory Equipment for Clinical, Industrial & Research Laboratories

NIH Lifts Ban on Federally Funded Research of Deadly Viruses

Jan
18
DSS

NIH lifts funding ban on deadly virusesThe National Institutes of Health has lifted a ban on federal funding for precarious research that might develop more contagious and deadly viruses. The move comes just more than three years after U.S. officials issued a pause on such research funding. Alongside the lifted ban, however, the NIH announced a more tedious review process that research proposals must undergo prior to receiving federal grants.

About the Hazardous Research

The worrisome research is called gain-of-function studies. It involves viruses such as influenza, MERS and SARS. Researchers argue that they need to modify the viruses to understand the genetic changes that cause pandemics. Their goal is to determine the risks so that they can prepare for and have better control over such emergencies.

The concern, however, is that mutating these and other viruses so that they can spread among humans quickly could kill millions of people. For instance, the H7N9 bird flu virus has infected over 1,500 people, and 40 percent of them lost their lives. This strain, however, doesn't spread easily from person to person. Modifying its structure could change that, leading to millions of infections and deaths in a pandemic.

Previous Mishaps in the Field

Other scientists are uneasy with previous efforts to study viruses. Government labs have botched studies on smallpox, anthrax, bird flu and Ebola several times.

In 2014, a team of government lab technicians found a hazardous bird flu contamination. However, they didn't report it until a month later when other techs started to notice that something was wrong. Later the same year, an active Ebola virus sample was transferred to the wrong lab. At least one technician was exposed. In 2015, a U.S. Army lab mistakenly shipped live anthrax samples to more than 190 labs across the country.

An Overview of the Enhanced Review Process

On Dec. 19, 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services revealed a new framework for research funding decisions. The new plan adds a new level of review by a multidisciplinary group of the HHS. It will have expertise in fields such as security, biosafety, law and ethics.

The HHS group will assess promising research proposals that have passed scientific peer review and fit the definition for enhanced potential pandemic pathogens. It will weigh the benefits and dangers. Then, it will either allow the proposals to go forward, recommend strategies to keep risks to a minimum or reject the studies.

Backing the Lifted Ban

There's much concern that lifting the ban on federal funding for virus studies will create a new pandemic. NIH Director Francis Collins defends the decision, though, saying that they're obligated to ensure that that infectious research is conducted with responsibility. He believes that the new review process will facilitate responsible, safe and secure conduct in this research field.

Leave a comment

You are commenting as guest.

FacebookTwitterDiggStumbleuponGoogle BookmarksRedditNewsvineLinkedIn

Scientific Trends

 
  • Need a Stress Immunization Shot?

    Need a Stress Immunization Shot?  ,

    Author:
    Jun
    06
    , DSS

    Immunization with beneficial bacteria can have long-lasting anti-inflammatory effects on the brain, making it more resilient to the physical and behavioral effects of stress, according to new research by University of Colorado Boulder (CU) scientists.

    The findings, if replicated in clinical trials could ultimately lead to new probiotic-based immunizations to protect against posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety or new treatments for depression, the authors say.
  • Antibiotic-Resistant Super-Germs Beware: New Biotech Process Vastly Expedites Drug Research

    Antibiotic-Resistant Super-Germs Beware: New Biotech Process Vastly Expedites Drug Research ,

    Author:
    May
    11
    , DSS

    Researchers have developed a new platform to characterize and optimize sequences to make glycoproteins. The new technique, dubbed GlycoSCORES, uses mass spectrometry and cell-free protein synthesis. The result is much faster research into protein therapies that may defend against antibiotic-resistant supergerms. It would also accelerate research into other new drugs.
  • Quantitative Pharmacodynamic Assay Can Distinguish DNA Damage in Fixed Tumor Biopsies

    Quantitative Pharmacodynamic Assay Can Distinguish DNA Damage in Fixed Tumor Biopsies ,

    Author:
    Apr
    25
    , DSS

    Apoptosis, the natural death of cells, and cancer drugs can induce double strand breaks (DSBs) that lead to DNA damage. Current methods of identifying apoptosis involve microscopy and have restricted quantitative capabilities because of inadequate ratios between signals and noise. However, scientists at the National Cancer Institute's branches in Bethesda and Frederick, Maryland, have developed a process that uses immunofluorescence microscopy to analyze fixed tumor biopsy tissues. It can distinguish between DSBs that are induced by apoptosis and therapeutic treatments.
  • Scientists Develop New Medications in Much Less Time Using New Crystallographic Method

    Scientists Develop New Medications in Much Less Time Using New Crystallographic Method ,

    Author:
    Mar
    29
    , DSS

    Researchers at the University of Zurich have developed a unique way to determine the crystal makeup of organic salts faster. Since salts make up about 40 percent of the active ingredients in medications, this new process can significantly accelerate the development of new pharmaceuticals. The new crystallographic method also decreases the effort that scientists put into that process which reduces development costs.
 

View More