Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Pakistan Academy of Sciences Emphasizes on Biosafety and Biosecurity in Life Sciences Research

Pakistan Academy of Sciences Emphasizes on Biosafety and Biosecurity in Life Sciences Research.

Dual Use Education and Biosecurity related issues addressed in PAS during “Regional Workshop on Biosafety and Biosecurity in Life Sciences Research”

Due to the fast pace of research in life sciences there is a need to develop skills of scientists and researchers to combat biological threats within the region by providing training on biosecurity, biosafety, pathogen surveillance, and infectious disease surveillance and disaster response. With a view of the above the Pakistan Academy of Sciences (PAS)  facilitated the Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (COMSATS) and the Islamic Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), in organizing a three days Regional Workshop on Biosafety and Biosecurity in Life Sciences Research on April 26 - 28 2016 in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Speakers in their detailed presentations highlighted the risks associated with transboundary pathogens and also suggested viable solutions. Chief Organizer of the workshop, Dr. Zabta K. Shinwari, Secretary General, informed that development of genetic engineering and bioscience technologies have raised a risk of bioterrorism and toxic pathogens that released from our laboratories and industries. 

Dr. Khalid Banuri, Director General (ACDA), raised the point in his speech that the issue of dual-use science is not new. The best known example may be nuclear science, which can be used to produce energy (a peaceful purpose) or nuclear bombs. He also mentioned that Likely threat to Pakistan can emerge from the use of biological weapons by Non-State Actors and by the accidental release of any Bio agents. He is of the view that Pakistan has always encouraged strengthening of national/ international institutional efforts to counter potential misuse of bio technology.  In support of his point, Dr. Sana Zahoor, Assistant Professor, VU added that research with highly pathogenic microorganisms, like H5N1 influenza, anthrax among others, could derive into a serious biological threat to a population or even terrorism. Dr. Nabil Qassem Hailat, Professor, JUST suggested that a regional laboratory could be used to safely and accurately diagnose transboundary diseases as an optimal solution for monitoring transboundary animal diseases in the region. Students of Quaid e Azam University contributed in the workshop by sharing their research findings through posters.