India establishes new BSL-4 laboratory in Pune

India's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare announced on Tuesday that the Indian Council of Medical Research established a biosafety level 4 laboratory in the Microbial Containment Complex of the Pune-based National Institute of Virology.

The facility will serve as an expansion of current work at the National Institute of Virology, including the investigation of highly infectious diseases like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, avian and pandemic swine flu, Nipah virus, Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever virus and Kyasanur forest disease virus. The BSL-4 lab will give India an increased ability to deal with agents of bioterrorism.

The ministry said that the BSL-4 lab will give the National Institute of Virology the ability to develop diagnostic reagents for highly infectious disease agents that can be provided to other laboratories for the early diagnosis of emerging diseases. The facility will also be used as a national virus repository for dangerous viral pathogens so the diseases can be archived for further research.

Features of the BSL-4 laboratory include a security gate that is monitored 24 hours a day, decontamination stations, a gamma radiation chamber and a unique training area to provide experience to employees in BSL-4 non-campaign mode.

The ministry said the total expense of the project was approximately $11.9 million.