Biosafety committee reviews new influenza research

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By Roger Snodgrass

Two new biological research projects came before the Institutional Biosafety Committee Tuesday. Both involved influenza research at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Babs Marrone of the laboratory’s Bioscience Division said her application for a project on “Environmental Sampling for Endemic Influenza Strains” was made in anticipation of funding from a Congressionally approved project led by the University of California, Los Angeles, for a High Speed, High Volume Laboratory Network for Infectious Diseases.

The larger project is intended to improve national responsiveness and decision-making in the event of a bioterror attack or outbreak of infectious diseases. The project aims to provide hundreds of times more capability for analyzing biological samples than has been available up until now.

“We’re trying to be prepared for the kinds of samples that would be part of that network,” Marrone said.

Locally, Marrone proposes to begin working out procedures and processes for identifying environmental traces of influenza in RNA molecular signatures. She is not testing for avian flu, but rather for the genes that would signal the flue. If found, these samples would be moved to another lab.

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