Canada's national lab to work on H7N9 flu virus; sample likely arrives next week

By Helen Branswell, The Canadian Press | The Canadian Press – <ABBR title=2013-04-19T20:10:59Z>7 hours ago</ABBR>

TORONTO - If all goes according to plan, a vial containing the worrisome new H7N9 virus should arrive at Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, where scientists are eager to begin work on the new pathogen.

Scientific Director Dr. Frank Plummer said China readily agreed to share a sample with the Canadian lab after Winnipeg asked for live virus with which to work. In fact, the emailed request drew a positive reply in a matter of a couple of hours.

"I was extremely pleased when I saw the response from China. All they wanted was an official letter and they were getting ready to send it to us," Plummer said in an interview.
The national lab director said the Winnipeg facility is also growing up a synthesized version of the virus, put together from genetic sequence data that China has shared through an international databank known as GISAID. While that's both great practice and a fallback in case the Chinese sample is delayed, Plummer said having the real thing is important.