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Boston councilor would impose local moratorium on research involving potentially pandemic viruses

The City Council tomorrow considers a proposal from Councilor Tito Jackson (Roxbury) for a hearing on barring research that involves "aerosolizing" pathogens not currently native to Boston - such as Ebola - at least until after scientists across the country have been able to figure out how to really keep us safe from inadvertent releases from laboratories.

The measure is aimed specifically at BU's National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories in the South End.

Jackson says the risks to the public of such mists escaping the lab are just too high without additional safety assurances.

Such aerosolization experiments have been used to generate novel potential pandemic pathogens (PPP), such as versions of the Asian bird flu (H5N1) and Chinese influenza virus (H7N9) with increased infectivity to mammals.

The council's meeting begins at noon in its fifth-floor chambers in City Hall.

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Comments

protesting a natural gas pipe seem silly

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is pro Ebola...

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Its bad enough that we have a bunch of uneducated politicians in Washington getting their science from TV and radio political commentators (who are getting paid by big polluting industries). Or worse. Religious leaders.

If the scientists are here, let them do their jobs here. They are far more capable of determining their needs than Tito Jackson.

This is the same scare mongering as the Ryan White hysteria.

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Tito is a con arist of the n'th degree. He exploits ignorance to create fear and maintain power. He does this on the backs of the neighborhoods that have been extorted for years, and pretends to have their interests at heart. It's a joke that he's eligible to keep his seat, and a disgrace to Boston. Like most of the city government.

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Adam, I think you can verify this poster's name - it checks out.

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Wouldn't aerosolizing avian flu violate some biowarfare convention? I hope Tito passes a bill to keep us safe from giant nuclear lizards.

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No.

It is something that needs to be done to understand if a virus remains alive and retains its potential to infect (and how far it could spread).

All critical details needed for, say, containment in a hospital ventilation system.

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Hadn't thought of that application. I generally steered clear of any pathogen work.

I understand that people might not want a BSL-4 lab in their backyard the same way they don't want high voltage lines, but this is Boston. Biomedical research is sort of a thing that goes on here.

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Can't Tito focus on predatory lending, predatory rent to own stores, predatory payday loan/check cashing places, predatory gangs, predatory con men, and the predatory BRA eating his district alive instead of this?

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Is that he's able to work on more than one thing. Hard to believe, but true.

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Makes you believe that? I don't remember a single positive story you've run on him. Everything I see is usually hackery from him.

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Was one of the few councilors to actually fight against them.

He's also been active in educational issues.

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'active in educational issues'

What like make sure there are repeated stories about racism and BLS in the Globe instead of looking at how the way the other 47000 kids in BPS make out?

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Was one of the few councilors to actually fight against them.

Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

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Indeed, he's doing a fine job shafting his constituents by ignoring real issues while he spends his time conning everyone else with this nonsense hearing. A real multitasker!

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pandering?

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[Looks at his hands.]

I feel so dirty. I once voted for this man.

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Maybe Tito can get organic Purell dispensers installed next to the organic sunscreen dispensers.

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put a BSL4 in a dense residential neighborhood?

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The same dense residential neighborhood that contains an interstate, a jail, warehouses for flowers, and acres of hospital -- that dense residential neigborhood?

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This proposal by Tito actually does look out for his Roxbury constituency: Residents have opposed the dangers of the BSL-4 lab for years.

Aerosolizing pathogens wouldn't be such a big deal if these labs were proven to be safe. However, history shows us they are not:

Nearly 400 Accidents with Dangerous Pathogens and Biotoxins Reported in U.S. Labs over 7 Years

Inside America's Secret Biolabs - Investigation reveals hundreds of accidents, safety violations and near misses put people at risk

More voices call for action on lab biosafety

Not to mention BU's history of repeatedly failing to conduct proper risk analysis before opening the facility. An institution that is concerned about the welfare of its neighboring community would want to their risk assessments to be properly vetted before beginning operations. Instead, BU tried to open early until it was forced by the state to wait until a thorough review was finished.

This Level 4 lab (the highest level of Bio Safety Labs, which studies the most dangerous pathogens known) is in a dense urban neighborhood. Compare the location with other BSL-4 facilities in the US:

City | Population density (ppl per sq. mile)
Hamilton, MT - 1,604
Ft. Detrick, MD - 2,667
Atlanta, GA - 3,921
Boston, MA - 12,327

If an infectious disease were to be released, the impacts would be far more damaging in Boston than at the other BSL-4 labs. Containment will also be more difficult and challenging with the on-ramp to 93 right there.

I'm not necessarily opposed to aerosolizing uncurable things so we can figure out how to fight them, but of the BSL-4 labs in the country, Boston's poses the most risk to the public.

Glad that at least one city councilor is watching out for Roxbury...

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I can remember angry biolab protests on campus when I was a freshman at BU...in 2003.

This is not a new viewpoint by any means.

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I could not find any evidence that a Biosafety Level-4 lab has ever had a containment break accident in the U.S., where there are 100s of BSL-2 or -3 labs but only about a dozen BSL-4 labs. In the first linked article, only 7 of the 400 incidents were containment breaks, which of course is a concern, but involves bugs that are much less dangerous than in the scary movie scenarios.

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There are labs there they are cooking up ebola viruses and flu viruses that cause pemphigus, an autoimmune disease that attacks the skin with antibodies. Essentially the virus will immunize people against their own skin antigens by making antigenic peptides with epidermal cell epitopes that are exposed to the bloodstream. There is talk about using a number of different viruses and bacteria to cause pandemics.

Organisms that spread by mosquitoes can cause deadly epidemics and the defense against those will be insecticides.

A really virulent modified cold virus or flu virus can spread pemphigus quickly by sneezing and coughing and by sputum. There may be regimes working on this right now.

Or modified AIDS viruses with the mutation might do the same thing.

Antigenic peptides are sometimes produced by accidental recombination. Its fortunate that the HIV virus that is hypermutable has not accidentally served up peptides that cause autoimmune syndromes like pepmphigus.

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There are labs there they are cooking up ebola viruses and flu viruses that cause pemphigus, an autoimmune disease that attacks the skin with antibodies. Essentially the virus will immunize people against their own skin antigens by making antigenic peptides with epidermal cell epitopes that are exposed to the bloodstream. There is talk about using a number of different viruses and bacteria to cause pandemics.

Organisms that spread by mosquitoes can cause deadly epidemics and the defense against those will be insecticides.

A really virulent modified cold virus or flu virus can spread pemphigus quickly by sneezing and coughing and by sputum. There may be regimes working on this right now.

Or modified AIDS viruses with the mutation might do the same thing.

Antigenic peptides are sometimes produced by accidental recombination. Its fortunate that the HIV virus that is hypermutable has not accidentally served up peptides that cause autoimmune syndromes like pepmphigus.

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