• Question: Is it possible for us to catch a virus or mutation from the bugs you're thinking of farming

    Asked by evilbugs to Alex on 24 Jun 2014.
    • Photo: Alex Lyness

      Alex Lyness answered on 24 Jun 2014:

      Hey evilbugs,

      I certainly hope not as in my research facility we specialise in grow cells not bugs, bacteria or viruses!

      We’re trying to grow human cells to [one day] inject into people therefore the whole process of how they are grown has to be super hygienic. We make sure that things like the air-flow in the room is correct, that protective equipment (gloves, glasses, lab coat) is worn and that all surfaces and equipment are cleaned with really nasty chemicals or lots of heat so that nothing infectious can grow near our cells.

      However, even when all protocol (lab rules) are followed very occasionally it is possible to go into the lab one morning and find that all your cells have become contaminated overnight. This can happen through human error and something really silly like a sneeze or a dirty sleeve cuff on your lab coat. The bacteria multiples overnight and infects the cells. Humans are covered in bacteria and always shedding cells/hair/sweat/moisture, so sometimes it happens and the cells die.

      I bet you that was the opposite of what you were thinking?

      Our people in the lab are more likely to infect/contaminate and kill the small populations of cells we grow… rather than the other way around! 🙂