Lacking samples from patients infected with the Ebola virus strain causing the current outbreak, CDC laboratory scientists reconstructed the Ituri strain of Ebola virus using reverse genetics in the CDC Biosafety Level 4
laboratory, under the highest level of biosecurity and safety.
The Institute is the only laboratory in the Department of Defense equipped to safely study highly hazardous viruses requiring maximum containment at Biosafety Level 4
Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases is among the few federally operated research facilities in the United States with Biosafety Level 3 and Biosafety Level 4
The pathogen is classified as a biosafety level 4
(BSL-4)  pathogen and should be handled only in high-level biosafety settings (1).
Failure to work in what is deemed a biosafety level 4
lab, of which there are only about two dozen worldwide, would likely not result in successful extraction but almost assuredly death of the handlers.
Working under maximum-containment conditions in a biosafety level 4
facility in UTMB's Galveston National Laboratory, the team introduced mutations into the virus' genetic code at four locations thought to generate proteins that affected immune response.
The NBAF would be the world's fourth Biosafety Level 4
laboratory capable of large animal research, replacing the aging Plum Island Animal Disease Center located off Long Island.
All residual biological samples collected during the patient's hospital stay were sent to the virology laboratory of the Spallanzani Hospital (Italy's national reference laboratory for viral hemorrhagic fever viruses, BioSafety Level 4
) in compliance with biosafety procedures.
Currently, all operational biosafety level 4
(BSL-4) labs are overseen by HHS's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
While flu is generally regarded as not extraordinarily dangerous and only requires minimal biosafety procedures, the genetic engineering experiments will "re-assort" flu genes and is considered so dangerous that it will require maximum containment (Biosafety Level 4
, the highest level).
On May 9, blood samples from 14 acutely ill persons arrived at CDC and were processed in the biosafety level 4
laboratory; analyses included testing for Ebola antigen and Ebola antibody by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for viral RNA.
- US-based Xenex's Germ-Zapping Robots were tested recently against live (not surrogate) Ebola virus and Bacillus anthracis (anthrax) spores in collaboration with the biosafety level 4
(BSL-4) containment laboratory at Texas Biomedical Research Institute, the company said.