New Western biocontainment lab opens up research possibilities
Published Monday, July 29, 2019 2:10PM EDT
A new research facility at Western University will allow scientist to investigate infectious pathogens like HIV at a higher level.
It looks like a scene from a movie, but it is a real-life research facility where infectious diseases like West Nile, the Zika Virus, Tuberculosis and HIV can be fully studied.
“It really will give us the opportunity to address some really fundamental questions we’ve not been able to address before,” says scientist Dr. Gregory Dekaban.
Behind a number of secure doors is The ImPaKT Lab, which has been years in the making. It has state-of-the-art imaging technology that can track pathogens at a molecular level.
Dekaban says it's, “To understand why, in certain circumstances, the body controls infections, and other times why do some pathogens you can’t escape and it creates chronic infections.”
The work that can be done in the ImPaKT Lab is significant because it has both level two plus and level three biocontainment labs.
Western Assistant Professor Dr. Jessica Prodger says, “Incubators are where we grow our viruses and they often have to be grown within human cells and that’s done in these incubators.”
Researchers say with the collaboration of scientists and technology these labs could hold the key to providing new avenues of research for vaccines to treat diseases such as HIV.
“We can do a certain level of vaccine testing here and if it proves efficacious in our animal models then the translation to go to human clinical trials becomes...stronger,” says Dekaban.
The ultimate goal is that the scientific expertise at Western will be utilized by scientists around the world to help advance the work in crucial research areas.