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Advance on detecting life-threatening diseases

The Supramolecular and Synthetic Biology Group led by Dr Patrick Schaeffer of James Cook University has met an important one-year milestone towards the development of an Ultrasensitive Universal Diagnostics Platform.

The research and development program, funded by Queensland’s Smart Futures Fund, began in 2010, and the group is at the centre of an international consortium that aims at developing innovative diagnostic tests with a strong focus on tropical diseases.

“The team has recently demonstrated that the new diagnostic technology platform is systematically more sensitive by at least 30-fold compared to a similar commercially available technology,” Dr Schaeffer said.

“During this time we also managed to develop a further new diagnostic system for the detection of Influenza.”

Both developments were recently published in the journals The Analyst and Analytical Biochemistry respectively. The findings were also presented at the recent Combio2011 conference held in Cairns.

The group is now entering the next stage of this collaborative program, which is to develop specific diagnostics for Dengue, Malaria, Melioidosis and peripheral arterial diseases.

“Antibodies targeting disease-specific antigens are currently under development for this purpose,” Dr Schaeffer said.

Melioidosis, known as Nightcliff gardener's disease, is caused by a bacterium found in soil and water in the tropics and is endemic in South-East Asia and tropical Australia.

“The disease has a high mortality rate and current diagnostic tests are not optimal for its detection,” Dr Schaeffer said.

“This disease has now become the team’s immediate priority for development of a diagnostic test”.

 

Reference papers:

1. IgG-detection devices for the Tus-Ter-lock immuno-PCR diagnostic platform. Morin I, Askin SP, Schaeffer PM. Analyst. 2011, Oct 6.

2. Combining RNA-DNA swapping and quantitative polymerase chain reaction for the detection of influenza A nucleoprotein. Morin I, Schaeffer PM. Anal Biochem. 2011, Sep 16.

 

Contact: Dr Schaeffer 0457056929

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