• 30 Aug 2017 9:48 AM | Daniel Kümin (Administrator)

    In March 2017, the American biotech company Tonix announced that a Canadian scientist had synthesized horsepox virus as part of a project to develop a safer vaccine against smallpox. The first de novo synthesis of an orthopoxvirus, a closely related group of viruses that includes horsepox and the variola virus that causes smallpox, crosses an important Rubicon in the field of biosecurity. The synthesis of horsepox virus takes the world one step closer to the reemergence of smallpox as a threat to global health security. That threat has been held at bay for the past 40 years by the extreme difficulty of obtaining variola virus and the availability of effective medical countermeasures. The techniques demonstrated by the synthesis of horsepox have the potential to erase both of these barriers. The primary risk posed by this research is that it will open the door to the routine and widespread synthesis of other orthopoxviruses, such as vaccinia, for use in research, public health, and medicine. The normalization and globalization of orthopoxvirus synthesis for these beneficial applications will create a cadre of laboratories and scientists that will also have the capability and expertise to create infectious variola virus from synthetic DNA. Unless the safeguards against the synthesis of variola virus are strengthened, the capability to reintroduce smallpox into the human population will be globally distributed and either loosely or completely unregulated, providing the foundation for a disgruntled or radicalized scientist, sophisticated terrorist group, unscrupulous company, or rogue state to recreate one of humanity’s most feared microbial enemies. The reemergence of smallpox—because of a laboratory accident or an intentional release—would be a global health disaster. International organizations, national governments, the DNA synthesis industry, and the synthetic biology community all have a role to play in devising new approaches to preventing the reemergence of smallpox. 


  • 19 Jun 2017 12:08 PM | Daniel Kümin (Administrator)
    In September this year, an international course concerning the principles of biosafety will be organized by the University of Antwerp, Ghent University, the Université de Namur and the Institute of Tropical Medicine, in collaboration with the Biosafety and Biotechnology Unit of the Scientific Institute of Public Health and the company Perseus.


  • 29 May 2017 11:34 AM | Daniel Kümin (Administrator)

    The Swiss Academy of Natural Sciences (SCNAT) organises a meeting on gene drives on September 18th 2017 in Ittigen. Further details may be found at the following link or here.

  • 22 May 2017 11:19 AM | Daniel Kümin (Administrator)
    The French society of microbiology (SFM) will celebrate its 80th anniversary during the 13th national congress held from Monday 9th to Wednesday 11th October 2017 in Paris at the "Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie".

    One theme will be dedicated to biosafety and biosecurity.

    Don't hesitate to submit your abstract for poster or oral communication (deadline: 30th June 2017)

    Click here to access to the preliminary program

  • 22 May 2017 11:16 AM | Daniel Kümin (Administrator)
    Swiss Academies Report 12 (3)

    Misuse potential and biosecurity in life sciences research 

    A discussion basis for scientists on how to address the dual use dilemma of biological research

     The report is availalbe in English, French, German and Italian (you can switch to different languages at the top right corner).

  • 31 Mar 2017 7:54 AM | Daniel Kümin (Administrator)

    This year's EBSA conference will take place in Madrid, Spain between April 25th and 28th. For further information please see the following link.

  • 31 Mar 2017 7:47 AM | Daniel Kümin (Administrator)

    The safe handling of microorganisms in the teaching laboratory is a top priority. However, in the absence of a standard set of biosafety guidelines tailored to the teaching laboratory, individual educators and institutions have been left to develop their own plans. This has resulted in a lack of consistency, and differing levels of biosafety practices across institutions. Influenced by the lack of clear guidelines and a recent outbreak of Salmonella infections that was traced backed to teaching laboratory exposures, the Education Board of the American Society for Microbiology charged a task force to develop a uniform set of biosafety guidelines for working with microorganisms in the teaching laboratory. These guidelines represent best practices for safely handling microbes, based on the safety requirements found in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC)'s Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL). Guidelines for safely handling microbes at both biosafety level 1 (BSL1) and at biosafety level 2 (BSL2) were developed. The guidelines are brief by design for ease of use and provide educators with a clear and consistent way to safely work with microorganisms in the teaching laboratory.


  • 10 Jan 2017 10:57 AM | Daniel Kümin (Administrator)

    The symposium will take place on Friday, February 3rd 2017, 14:00 - 16:00, Campus Irchel, University of Zurich.

    More information may be found here.

  • 10 Jan 2017 10:55 AM | Daniel Kümin (Administrator)

    Federal officials today released a plan to help U.S. agencies decide whether to fund controversial studies that make viruses more dangerous. The guidance may finally bring an end to a moratorium that has kept a handful of experiments funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on hold for more than 2 years.

    The policy may be found here.

  • 23 Dec 2016 7:13 AM | Daniel Kümin (Administrator)

    Hazardous substance information system of the German Social Accident Insurance

    The GESTIS Biological Agents Database contains information for safe activities with biological agents at the workplace, e.g. the required technical, organisational and personal protection measures in the case of specific activities in laboratories, biotechnology and the husbandry of laboratory animals. It also supplies information on important properties of the various biological agents, e.g. their occurrence and pathogenic properties. It contains data on about 15000 biological agents. Information on activities in other sectors where biological agents may possibly occur (so-called "non-specific" activities, e.g. litter service or waste water industry) can be found in non-specific activity data sheets.


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