BMBS COST Action B28
Array Technologies for BSL3 and BSL4 Pathogens
The main objective of the COST Action B28 is to increase knowledge on BSL3 and BSL4
agents in order to support the development of more accurate diagnostics, vaccines and
therapeutics, and to better understand the epidemiology of these highly pathogenic microorganisms
that can be potentially used as biological weapons.
In the United States, several research laboratories are dealing with fast identification and
characterisation of micro-organisms that can be used as biological weapons. They receive
massive support from their government to develop tests that will help politicians in decision
making in the event that the organisms, described in this COST Action, would be misused. They
are also heavily involved in development of further treatments and vaccines for these
microorganisms. The outcome of all this research is, however, mainly covered by secrecy and is
of little help to the European Union. This means that when something happens with these
microorganisms, Europe would be completely dependent on the co-operation with the United
States. Moreover, some live microorganisms are only available outside of the EU (smallpox).
Therefore the COST Action B28 will also collaborate with these institutes, to obtain the
necessary information on these organisms, enabling the network to include them with research.
An investment into this subject, having this magnitude would be ineffective if the individual
members of the EU had to do this individually. Moreover, not all technical knowledge and
equipment are covered by the individual states, especially for the smaller member states and the
newcomers in the EU, where such an investment would be very difficult to cope with financially. However, in Europe, there are several laboratories capable of making a major
contribution in developing such research, though they are scattered over the different member
states. These factors point to the need for a strategic collaboration of groups throughout Europe
which is the objective of this COST Action.
Several culture collections and laboratory facilities are also scattered over Europe, so it is
absolutely necessary to unite the different laboratories to ensure that the means for success are
brought together. The existing research capacities of the different laboratories, active in the field
of human, animal medicine and defence, who are dealing with the same microorganisms, will be
united in this COST Action. In addition a strong connection with a group of technologists will be
established. This, together with additional help from people specialised in certain research items
such as genomics, proteomics, glycomics and antigenicity, make this COST Action B28 unique
in its capabilities. Moreover, additional expertise of the several researchers in this COST Action
in the field of antibiotic resistance, vaccine development and immunology will make this project
unique in its kind and enabling the thorough study of these rare but highly pathogenic and
Several European laboratories that have dealt with the “anthrax threat” in 2001 were not
sufficiently prepared to handle the demand. Different laboratories had different backgrounds,
ranging from veterinary institutions through human medical institutions to defence institutions.
Not all laboratories were able to perform fast and accurate detection/diagnosis of the agent. This
COST Action is supported by several of these laboratories and by networking these laboratories
the Action gives access to new means for fast diagnosis and intervention. Many of these
laboratories have experience in fields other than the biological weapons, for instance in
taxonomy, antibiotic resistance, vaccine development and virulence; there are possibilities to
enlarge the detection and diagnosis of these agents. The Action will create an overall
comprehensive and applicable knowledge base concerning these particular microorganisms.
(Descriptions are provided by the Actions directly via e-COST.)