SGS has added a 12-bed, Biosafety Level 2-Q compliant, quarantine facility for viral challenge studies to its clinical pharmacology unit in Antwerp, Belgium.
The Viral Challenge Testing facility features a negative pressure system with individual compartments for infected volunteers. A dedicated laboratory is equipped with a flow cabinet, acid cabinet, dedicated workspace and workflows to handle specific (viral) cultures, using HEPA-filtering and an airlock system.
“This unique, European viral challenge testing facility enhances SGS’s service offering for our clients in the fields of infectious disease and vaccine development, allowing clients a chance to improve screening and development of their compounds,” says Steven Ramael, SGS Life Science Services medical director in the announcement.
“Although the model does not necessarily reflect all parameters relevant to community-acquired infection, it does provide for a carefully controlled, systematic, and efficient method in which a number of variables can be controlled or even eliminated, with the subjects continuously monitored in a sequestered environment that minimizes safety risks for infected volunteers and that protects the outside world from a possible spread of infection,” Ramael adds.
SGS reports that this model enables detailed assessment of immune parameters that help in identifying immunological correlations of infection and illness. The sample size required to obtain meaningful results with this model is substantially lower than for community-based studies of naturally acquired infection, which can translate into savings in the clinical development costs for new vaccines or antiviral agents, according to a company statement.