Czech Republic has a new weapon against dangerous viruses and infections
News — 03.04.2024

Czech Republic has a new weapon against dangerous viruses and infections

A new biosafety laboratory BSL3 was opened today at the Biotechnology and Biomedicine Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences and Charles University in Vestec (BIOCEV), enabling safe work with highly infectious viruses and bacteria. This laboratory was built with funding from the EXCELES project of the National Institute of Virology and Bacteriology. The state-of-the-art facility costing nearly 65 million CZK will enable scientists to study, for example, hepatitis B, Rift Valley fever, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), as well as SARS-CoV-2. Studying the properties and life cycles of these and other viruses and studying their interaction with vectors will enable the identification of diagnostic and therapeutic targets.

"The opening of the biosafety level 3 (BSL3) laboratory represents a major milestone for virology research in the Czech Republic. Thanks to this laboratory, research groups will be able to monitor, for example, the causative agent of Rift Valley fever (RVFV) and its chain of transmission in nature. The information obtained is important for understanding the interactions between the virus and its vectors, thanks to which it will be possible to identify the specific species of these vectors and in the future to more accurately monitor the occurrence and spread of this disease and initiate steps for early protection of the population," explains the coordinator of the NIVB project for Charles University, experimental virologist doc. Ruth Tachezy from the Faculty of Science of Charles University.

Ruth Tachezy during the official opening ceremony

"The opening of the BSL3 laboratory at BIOCEV will allow us to conduct experiments to understand the change in cell tropism, i.e. the type of cells that the virus preferentially infects, that occurred, for example, during the evolution of the pandemic SARS-CoV-2 virus in the Omicron variant. The BSL3 laboratory will also be able to study the interaction of viruses with natural immunity mechanisms, opening up ways to slow or stop viral replication. The BSL3 laboratory will allow us to study infection with hepatitis B and D viruses leading to cirrhosis and liver cancer. These experiments will help us to understand why both diseases can be successfully treated in many cases but cannot be cured, and should lead to the elucidation of the mechanisms that would lead to a cure," adds Ruth Tachezy.

More information is available in the Czech version of the press release.

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