The PC3 laboratory at St Vincent's Centre for Applied Medical Research is a modern purpose built and modular facility giving researchers the flexibility to handle a number of infec tive organisms and genetically modified organisms at any one time. The facility was primarily designed to handle human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV-1) and houses a cell sorting flow cytometer which allows researchers to safely study cell populations from individuals with HIV and viral hepatitis infections. This facility is the only PC3 facility with such capacity and enables unique research into the immunology, natural history and pathogenesis of these infections.
Physical containment facilties are designed to ensure infectious microorganisms are safely contained inside the laboratory. This protects the surrounding environment and the workers inside the facility from any risk of contamination.
All procedures involving the manipulation of infectious materials are conducted within biological safety cabinets, specially designed biological safety cabinets (hoods), or other physical containment devices, or by personnel wearing appropriate personal protective clothing and equipment. The laboratory has special engineering and design features which ensure all waste is sterilised before leaving the facility, the exhausted air is filtered to remove any airborne contaminants, staff are highly trained and strict work practices are followed.
The facility is certifed by the Federal Government Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) ensuring the standards and workpractices are complied with and permits research involving genetically modifed microorganisms (GMO) to be carried out.
Microorganisms are classified according to their degree of risk. This is based on the pathogenicity of the agent, the mode of transmission, the host range of the agent and the availability of effective preventive measures and treatment.
Risk Group 2 (moderate individual risk, limited community risk) - a pathogen that can cause human, plant or animal disease, but is unlikely to be a serious hazard to laboratory workers, the community, livestock, or the environment; laboratory exposure may cause infection, but effective treatment and preventive measures are available, and the risk of spread is limited. Generally work with Risk Group 2 microorganisms shall be carried out in Physical Containment level 2 (PC2).
Risk Group 3 (high individual risk, limited community risk) - a pathogen that usually causes serious human, plant or animal disease and may present a serious hazard to laboratory workers. It could present a risk if spread in the community or environment, but there are usually effective preventative measures or treatment available. Work with Risk Group 3 microorganisms shall be carried out in Physical Containment level 3 (PC3).
Human Immunodeficiency Virus-1 (HIV-1) and Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) are considered Risk Group 3 and infective materials must be handled in a Biological Safety Cabinet Class II in a PC3 laboratory.
For further information about this facility contact the Facility Manager and Research Program Head - Professor Anthony Kelleher