Monday, 18 April 2011

BEI extend their services to include Aspergillus

One of the main ways in which the result of a piece of research can be checked is for a second group to repeat the experiment and test if it gets the same result as the first group. If the same result is observed then we can be more confident that the result is true, but what if the result is different? Is it a bad result? What do we do now? - repeat the whole experiment again, potentially taking several more months or even years.

There are many examples of this but perhaps one of the most relevant to medical mycology involving Aspergillus is the slow progress of the development of the PCR assay for detection & diagnosis of Aspergillosis. We have discussed this in an earlier blog.

One cause of the lack of repeatability of an experiment is that something important changed when the first experiment was repeated - in our example the second group may have used a slightly different strain of Aspergillus or might have used slightly different chemical reagents or methods. For this reason it is important to have standard reference strains of the fungus that everyone has access to, standard reagents that everyone can use and standard methodology with which everyone can perform the experiment.

Although this sounds simple and even obvious it can get very difficult to achieve and can get very demanding on limited resources in each laboratory causing dispute and disappointment.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID - part of the US government funded National Institute for Health NIH) is attempting to provide resources to reduce these problems. The BEI  (Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Biological Resources Repository) has for some years provided a repository for free access to specific microbes and reagents so that scientists and doctors can deposit those that were used for a particular experiment without fear of loss of legal protection of the results of their experiments
BEI Resources was established by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAIDto provide reagents, tools and information for studying Category A, B, and C priority pathogens, emerging infectious disease agents and other biological materials of relevance to the research community.  BEI Resources acquires authenticates, and produces reagents that scientists need to carry out basic research and develop improved diagnostic tests, vaccines, and therapies. By centralizing these functions within BEI Resources, access to and use of these materials in the scientific community is monitored and quality control of the reagents is assured.
In addition to supplying the infectious disease community with materials, BEI Resources also encourages and supports the deposit of materials from researchers and institutions. Depositing materials with BEI Resources has many advantages to the researcher and the research community including secure storage, community access.

These facilities are now being extended to include any infectious organisms, including Aspergillus. The entire medical mycology community can benefit. Not only that there are also resources being allocated to provide services to exend the scope of BEI to include the development of new reagents such as antibodies & recombinant protein expression & purification so as to provide new tools to the whole research community. These services will be available to all research teams all over the world.

These important new services & facilities may well help speed up research and in in relation to Aspergillus in particular could lead to a significant reduction in the time it takes to develop new more rapid diagnostic techniques for aspergillosis which would lead to more effective treatment for everyone.

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