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Novel coronavirus lab planned for Nagasaki Univ.

  • August 5, 2020
  • , The Japan News , 5:28 p.m.
  • English Press

The government plans to support the establishment of a laboratory to research infectious diseases and train human resources at Nagasaki University. The laboratory is to be connected with a BSL-4 experiment facility that is under construction by the university now. BSL-4, or biosafety level 4, is the highest international safety standard.


The move is aimed at strengthening the nation’s ability to respond quickly to new infectious diseases in light of the spread of the novel coronavirus. The Education, Culutre, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry plans to include more than ¥1 billion for the lab in the budget request for fiscal 2021.


The new BSL-4 facility is scheduled to be built by summer of 2021 and is expected to start operation in fiscal 2022 or later. Following that, the envisaged laboratory is expected to conduct various types of pathogen research in conjunction with the work of the BSL-4 facility to improve measures against infectious diseases and to develop human resources.


The laboratory is to be an eight-story building with a total floor space of about 4,000 square meters. An exclusive area for research into the new coronavirus is expected to be set up in the new laboratory, where the effectiveness of vaccines will be studied.


The only currently functioning BSL-4 facility in Japan is the Murayama Branch, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, in Musashi-Murayama, Tokyo. But this branch carries out tests or examinations mainly in relation to the initial outbreak of infectious diseases, and refrains from basic research on features of viruses under an agreement with the municipal government.


The government decided that the preparation and building of Nagasaki University’s BSL-4 facilities should be promoted as a national policy in November 2016.


The university hopes to make the facility a world-class joint research center by cooperating with eight other Japanese universities that are engaged in research on infectious diseases.


In response to the spread of the novel coronavirus, the government has stipulated in its Basic Policies on Economic and Fiscal Management and Reform this year that it will “prioritize budgets and human resources for measures against infectious diseases, such as research and development of effective therapies, drugs, and vaccines.”

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