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shipping retrovirus supernatant - (Jul/06/2010 )

What is the best way to ship retrovirus supernatant internationally? The virus is Ecotropic (only transduce animal cells and do not replicate). How do I classify it? It seems to match several categories (Infectious substance, genetically modified microorganisms or unregulated biological materials). Last time I declared as genetically modified microorganisms in a shipment to Europe and the package was held up in the airport for a week and the samples had gone bad.

Anyone has experience with this kind of shipment? Anyway to make sure the virus arrives on time? Can I safely declare the virus as unregulated biological materials?


nonhazardous human protein


Talk to your local biosecurity office, they should be able to help. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has very tight regulations as to what you can ship by various methods. If you contact a courier company (I recommend World Couriers as I have used them a lot in the past) they will be able to tell you how it should be shipped and if you can provide them with the paperwork for importation, they should be able to get it "preapproved" with the biosecurity/customs of the country that is receiving it, which means that it won't be held up at the border. Get the receiver to supply importation permits for their country.

DO NOT declare it as unhazardous biological materials, infection of animals (i.e. our food supply) is just as big a risk as infecting humans. Penalties for incorrect declarations of biologicals are often very severe - ranging up to several hundred thousand dollars. IATA can also apply penalties if you incorrectly declare something on the shipment and they are even worse.

Long story short - label it as live virus supernatant and have the proper paperwork to get it through promptly.