Pathogen collection sells typhoid on the cheapInfectious bacteria and viruses are generally considered good things to stay away from, but one institution is actively out looking for them.
The National Culture Collection for Pathogens is a centralized resource bank that has acquired 11,631 microbial samples in cooperation with Kyungpook, Gyeongsang and Chonbuk National University hospitals.
The institute is tasked with collecting, preserving and distributing pathogens to medical centers and scientific organizations for study. Of its stock, 2,000 items are available to research institutions.
The materials are graded A-D and priced based on how difficult they are to deal with. Typhoid, which is easy to manage, goes for 20,000 won ($17.80) a sample. Legionella, a microorganism responsible for a type of pneumonia called Legionnaires’ disease, is steeper, at 60,000 won.
Still, it would be more expensive for scientists to carry out their studies without the state-run institute.
“The American Type Culture Collection, which has hundreds of thousands of pathogen resources, sells typhoid for 300,000 won,” said Shin Na-ri, a researcher at the National Culture Collection for Pathogens.
The competition for securing such germs is set to become more intense, as the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing is expected to go into effect next year. If adopted, the treaty will ensure compensation for countries credited with discovering germs responsible for pandemics, such as bird flu and SARS. The 12th round of talks on the Nagoya Protocol are slated to be held in Korea next year.
Although Korea has acquired some 10,000 pathogens, only a few are essential for the development of lucrative vaccines.
“We’ve made an effort to get as many germs as possible but now it’s time to be more selective and focus on more lucrative organisms,” said Lee Yoo-choel, a microbiology professor at Kyungpook National University.
BY JANG JOO-YOUNG [email@example.com]