San Antonio's Texas Biomedical Research Institute, better known as the 'place with the monkeys' on Loop 410, is constructing a top level biosafety research laboratory, partly with a $250,000 loan from the City of San Antoio, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
TBRI is engaging in many projects designed to tackle some of the emerging biological threats, from Zika to Ebola, as well as fighting bioterrorism, and the new lab will help the Institute make breakthroughs.
Rene Dominguez, who is the San Antonio Economic Development Director, says it will also be a major economic boost to the city.
"They are currently backlogged 24 months on projects, and, over the past five years, they have had to turn down around $40 million in additional research grants."
Dr. Larry Schlesinger, the new President of TBRI says the new lab, which will be the only private top level lab in the country, will expand the organization's capabilities in developing vaccines and therapies for the world's deadliest infections, including pathogens which are developing resistance to current treatments.
"The Institute's current biocontainment facilities must expand if we are to meet the growing demands for discovering more effective diagnostics, therapies, and vaccines," Dr. Schlesinger said.
He pointed out that at least 25 percent of the 60 million people who die worldwide each year die of infectious diseases, which are potentially treatable.
"BSL-4 labs provide the highest level of biosafety precautions for the work on bio agents and now incurable diseases," Dominguez said.
He pointed out that the existence of the lab will significantly increase the amount of bioscience research dollars flowing into the San Antonio economy, and also presents the possibility of spin off private companies being founded based on the research done at TBRI.