Fraunhofer IZI operates a safety level 3 laboratory, making it possible to handle research and development projects under biosafety level 3 conditions and to investigate highly pathogenic agents. Genetic engineering work can also be undertaken. Adjacent premises for keeping animals permit the development of and work with infection models for corresponding types of pathogen.
Safety precautions taken in the S3 laboratory include an independent ventilation system with separate filters (H14 class HEPA filters) for all rooms incl. autoclave. High-efficiency particulate air filters eliminate 99.995 percent of all particles measuring between 0.1 and 0.3 micrometers. The ventilation system guarantees eight air changes per hour with an air flow volume of up to 1500m³/h air throughput.
Airlocks and pressure differences between areas prevent infectious particles from escaping into the air. Every room can also be aerated and ventilated separately to eliminate contamination.
Staff safety is ensured through specific training measures, special safety clothing and protective hoods with integrated air filter systems.
The S3 laboratory is equipped with a safety cabinet, various centrifuges, an inverted microscope with phase contrast, a refrigerator, a -80°C ultra-low freezer, an incubator and a thermal cycler for cellular and molecular biology work.
Standard activities include using cell cultures for virus propagation, using assays to determine viral concentration (TCID50, plaque assay), and virus inactivation. Neutralization assays can also be carried out.
The laboratory is currently being used to examine viruses transferred by arthropods such as the dengue or West Nile viruses alongside SARS-CoV-2. Other pathogens that fall under biosafety level 3 can be added as required.