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Microbiology Australia Microbiology Australia
Issue 2

Vertical Transmission, May 2006

I look forward to seeing you at the ASM Annual Scientific Meeting in the Gold Coast from 2-6 July. The scientific programme is very exciting and is headed by Rubbo Orator, Professor Ruth Hall and Fenner Lecturer, A/Prof. Rick Cavicchioli, and features a plenary lecture entitled Infections & cancer ? opportunities & challenges by Australian of the Year, Professor Ian Frazer. In addition, you can learn how to communicate with the media from the American Society for Microbiology?s Communications Director, Barbara Hyde. Escape the depths of winter ...

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Are we prepared for the revolution in diagnostic technology?

The advances in diagnostic technology have been significant over the past 3 decades. The introduction of the enzyme linked immunoabsorbent assay (ELISA) revolutionised serological assays and enabled large scale automation of serological testing. Equally, the introduction of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) enabled the amplification of DNA and RNA gene segments and the detection of infectious agents with high sensitivity and specificity.

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The need for regulation and standardisation of in vitro diagnostic (IVD) assays for the diagnosis of acute tropical infections: dengue as a case study

A recent review of diagnostics for the developing world stated that the characteristics of the ideal diagnostic test were: ? Affordable by those at risk of infection. ? Sensitive (few false-negatives). ? Specific (few false-positives). ? User-friendly (simple to perform and requiring minimal training). ? Rapid (to enable treatment at first visit) and robust (does not require refrigerated storage). ? Equipment-free. ? Delivered to those who need it. The need for such tests has lead to the development of rapid in vitro diagnostic (IVD) assays f...

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Quality control and quality assurance for point of care (POC) diagnostic tests

Point of care (POC) tests are those performed outside a central laboratory, using testing devices that are easily transportable to perform testing near where the patient is located. POC testing is also known as near patient testing, patient self testing, rapid testing and bedside testing. This definition involves a wide range of types of POC testing.

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Rapid diagnostic test kits for influenza

Influenza is a respiratory infection which can result in significant morbidity and excess mortality especially in the elderly, the immunosuppressed and the very young. In children, influenza has been associated with increased outpatient visits, hospital admissions and antibiotic usage. However, rapid diagnosis of influenza has been shown to significantly alter the management of the patient?s illness, resulting in a reduction in diagnostic tests performed, reduced antibiotic use, correct use of influenza antivirals and reduced length of stay in ...

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The use of rapid diagnostic kits for the rapid presumptive identification of bioterrorist agents

The events of 11 September 2001 and the subsequent US anthrax mail attacks placed enormous pressure on emergency response agencies to be able to rapidly assess the potential risk of an incident as a possible case of bioterrorism. In response to this perceived need to rapidly identify bioterrorist agents in the field, a number of hand-held ?tickets? appeared in the market and were promoted heavily to emergency response personnel. These included products from Tetracore (Guardian Bio-Threat Alert System), Alexis, Sigma-Aldrich (BADD ? Biowarfare A...

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Homogeneous assays: a paradigm shift in immunodiagnostics

Immunoassay methods are either heterogeneous or homogeneous and rely on the interaction between an antibody and antigen. Historically, diagnostic immunoassays assays have relied on heterogeneous assay formats for analyte detection.

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DNA microarrays for pathogen detection and characterisation

DNA microarrays have three main potential diagnostic uses in clinical microbiology: detection of known pathogens, pathogen typing and novel pathogen discovery. Although DNA microarray platforms offer the ability to screen for a large number of agents in parallel, sensitivity is dependent on the ability to obtain adequate amounts of pathogen nucleic acids from collected samples. In general, high levels of sensitivity require a PCR amplification step using specific primer sets, subsequently reducing the overall scope of the microarray assay. At p...

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Point of care testing: lateral flow technology and beyond

For the last 50 years the pathology industry has been centralised and built around a strong skills base in laboratory medicine. Over recent decades, that skills base has been diluted as advances in technology have seen automation takeover many laboratory-based functions. These changes have, perversely, been driven by advances in medical science. With advances in medicine has come the demand for more intervention (testing) and the concomitant economic pressure to reduce the real cost of pathology testing as access is expanded.

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Crime scene investigation: can we detect anthrax?

An act of bioterrorism refers to both the threat to conduct as well as an actual incident involving the use of a biological agent against the civilian population. The detection of potential biological pathogens and toxins can now be conducted at the scene of a biological threat or release of a suspicious substance. Improvements in science and technology have enabled manufacturers of traditional laboratory based equipment to produce smaller, more basic models, enabling microbial testing to be conducted in the field.

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Developing high affinity antibodies as diagnostics

The success of diagnostic reagents in the market today is measured by their level of specificity, affinity and stability. In the case of antibodies which represent approximately 30% of the global diagnostic market, the majority of molecules isolated from naïve or synthetic libraries have low affinities in the micromolar range which are not sufficient for diagnostic applications.

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Rapid diagnosis and the routine microbiology laboratory

This issue of Microbiology Australia discusses many of the exciting technological advances occurring in laboratories that give us quicker and better quality results. Many of these have been developed to meet new demands for quicker diagnosis of common infections, or relate to uncommon infections with dire individual or public health consequences.

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Protein microarrays in clinical microbiology

Clinical microbiology laboratories have, in the past, broadly adopted new molecular biology techniques and automation. In the near future, the adoption of protein microarray technology has the potential to revolutionise the field in a manner similar to that of polymerase chain reaction (PCR). With the advantages of far greater sensitivity, parallel experimentation, reduced sample consumption and cost-per-test, the development of protein microarrays has come about through the realisation that mRNA levels do not necessarily correlate with protein...

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Beyond antibodies ? lessons from bacterial ?immunity?

Isolation and production of highly specific protein-based binding molecules are crucial to the ever expanding diagnostics, therapeutics and protein array fields. Traditionally, such reagents have been sourced from vertebrate immune systems, where antibodies have evolved over millennia into highly effective molecules of immune surveillance capable of targeting a huge range of targets in response to infection and disease. Now, a growing number of alternative protein scaffolds are being investigated as specific binding molecules incorporating a di...

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Point of care using simple/rapid HIV tests

Movement of HIV testing to point of care (POC) has been facilitated by the availability of simple/rapid anti-HIV immunoassays. These assays have been used at health centres in the United States, Canada and at voluntary counselling and testing centres in developing countries. While this approach has revolutionised HIV screening in some areas, there are ethical, legal and quality assurance considerations that must be addressed before POC HIV testing is universally accepted.

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Avian influenza: implications for Australia

Avian influenza (AI) or ?bird flu? is a highly contagious viral infection of birds. Some AI viruses, called ?highly pathogenic avian influenza? (HPAI) viruses, can cause sudden high mortality (up to 100%) in domestic fowl (chickens). AI viruses are classified into subtypes on the basis of haemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N) projections on their surface. There are 16 H and nine N types and, to date, all outbreaks of HPAI have been caused by H5 or H7 viruses.

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Making sense of resistance genes: New technology in defining phenotypic and molecular methods in detecting and understanding bacterial resistance

technology has been introduced in the laboratory for detecting resistance markers. This has helped the scientific and medical community in detecting and understanding antimicrobial resistance. One thing that we have learned from this new technology is that both phenotypic standardised methods and molecular techniques are needed to understand the complex evolution of resistance. Table 1 shows organisms with unusual bacterial resistances that need reference laboratory confirmation.

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ASM Affairs, May 2006

ASM members making news: Prof Barry Marshall 2005 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine & Prof Ian Frazer 2006 Australian of the Year; R&D: where a little buys a lot;

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