Australia opens advanced biofacility

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has opened up one of the world's most advanced biosecurity areas at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong, Australia.
Science Minister Kim Carr opened the new level four facility, which is a $5 million laboratory that will allow scientists to work with live cells of killer infections, including the SARS, ebola, nipah and hendra viruses. The scientists there will collaborate with experts from around the world through visits and online meetings, the Herald Sun reports.
The Geelong laboratory is already well-known in the science world as a result of Dr. Linfa Wang's breakthrough in discovering a link between bats and the SARS virus. Bats will form a major part of experiments at the lab, which also has 120 monkeys that are used for research into HIV.
"We do have these new and emerging viruses," Martyn Jeggo, the director of the Australian Animal Health Laboratory, said, according to the Herald Sun. "And we don't know where they are going to come from. It's not so much those four (hendra, ebola, SARS and nipah); it's probably one we don't know about."
The new laboratory received funded through the Federal Government's National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy. Students from universities across Australia also will be encouraged to work at the laboratory as one of the conditions of the grant.
The opening comes as The Department of Homeland Security in the United States announced it wants to work with the CSIRO to develop vaccines against bioterror threats, according to the Herald Sun. Jeggo said the Americans were interested in using live-cell imaging technology.
"The Department of Homeland Security sent us a letter asking about creating partnerships," Jeggo said, according to the Herald Sun. "They want to develop anti-biological warfare options, which could include vaccines, or better equipment such as face masks for their troops, particularly after the anthrax scare."