HIV and TB are national health priorities and in its quest to find the cure for these diseases, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has built a laboratory to specifically focus its research on HIV and TB.
The multimillion rand world class containment level 3 facility laboratory was officially launched by Director General of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Dr Phil Mjwara.
The CSIR containment level 3 facility is a controlled access laboratory for experiments involving HIV and TB phatogens.
"The establishment of the facility was made possible through an infrastructure grant from DST " an indication of our commitment to addressing the national priority of scientific development that will ultimately improve the quality of life of the people of South Africa," said Dr Mjwara.
The lab is designed to minimize occupational infection to researchers by phatogens while conducting life saving work.
"This state-of-the art equipment is housed in adjacent, yet independent, containment level 3 suites for HIV and TB research. Discovery and testing of potential HIV and TB drugs and diagnostics will be done on real, clinically isolated Aids viruses and TB pathogens. This facility epitomises world class research infrastructure in South Africa," said CSIR Research Group Leader, Dr Makobetsa Khati.
Currently, there are at least five small containment level-3 facilities in South Africa, either for HIV or TB work. What is unique about the CSIR facility is that it houses adjacent and relatively bigger independent suites for HIV and TB work. This will interface HIV and TB research programmes and add more capacity to the already overstretched containment level 3 facilities in the country. In addition, because the CSIR containment level-3 facility was bench-marked against the best locally and internationally and was recently established, it boasts state-of-the-art features and equipment.
"Scientists at the CSIR will be able to perform cutting edge and high impact collaborative research that addresses pressing national health challenges such as HIV and TB infections. The public should expect proudly South African and hence affordable products with health impact and socio-economic benefits to hit the shelves eventually," said Dr Khati.
The facility will be accessible to relevant national and international collaborators and will allow researchers to conduct ground-breaking research towards the development of HIV and TB diagnostics and drugs.
Researches that can be done on this laboratory includes discovering and developing new drugs against HIV and TB from South African indigenous plants, discovering and developing novel chemical entities into HIV and TB drugs and developing a reliable and affordable point of care diagnostic tools for HIV and TB.
"The facility will also contribute significantly to human capital development in science and technology as it will be used to train postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers in the fields of HIV and TB biomedical research," said Dr Khati