Dr Nick Scott and his team use maths to outsmart deadly infectious diseases and save vulnerable lives.
The Burnet team developed the first HEV IgM Rapid Assay to detect IgM antibodies to Hepatitis E virus (HEV) in human sera. It was designed as a diagnostic tool for the detection of anti-HEV IgM in patients presenting with symptoms of acute viral Hepatitis.
Burnet Institute first developed the assay in 1998 in association with AMRAD ICT. The assay was highly sensitive, performing as well or better than the competitor IgM ELISAs in a number of published studies. The test is now sold under license worldwide by MP Biomedical (Asia-Pacific).
Syphilis remains a worldwide public health problem. The World Health Organization estimates that there are 12 million new cases of syphilis each year, with more than 90 percent occurring in developing nations.
A wide range of diagnostic tests exist to diagnose both active and past syphilis infection, however many of these tests are of limited value in primary healthcare settings especially in developing countries. Current Rapid-Point-Of-Care (RPOC) tests have limited value in areas where syphilis is endemic or in some high risk groups. Burnet has developed a simple, rapid test that allows the detection of T. pallidum specific IgM, without the interference of specific IgG.
The Burnet Syphilis IgM rapid assay represents the first rapid point of care assay for the detection of T. pallidum specific IgM, and should be a valuable tool for the improved control of syphilis worldwide. Burnet is currently in negotiations for the worldwide licensing of the test.
After six years of development in the laboratory, Burnet Institute’s innovative point-of-care (POC) CD4 test was officially launched at the AIDS 2012 Conference in Washington.
VISITECT® CD4, developed by Burnet Deputy Director Associate Professor David Anderson, Burnet Associate Director Professor Suzanne Crowe AM, and their team, is an affordable POC test aimed at reaching HIV-positive patients around the world.
Before HIV infected patients are treated with anti-retroviral drugs their CD4 T cells must be below 350 cells per microlitre (according to current WHO treatment guidelines).
The conventional way to measure CD4 T cell levels is through sending blood samples to be tested via flow cytometry (FACS) which is an instrument that requires large capital investments to purchase and then train scientific staff to maintain and operate. Most laboratories and clinics in the countries most affected by HIV and AIDS are unable to monitor CD T cells, particularly in remote and rural settings.
Associate Professor Anderson and his team have developed a novel rapid point of care for the measurement of CD T cell levels in a similar format to a pregnancy test and only requires a finger pick of blood. The test does not require highly trained personnel to operate and can be performed in remote settings by health out-reach workers giving a simple treat or no treat result.
The test works by measuring the amount of cell associated CD4 using a sandwich capture assay where the sample line is checked against the test line to give a treat or no- treat result. The test is currently involved in field trials in India and Africa. Burnet is negotiating the licensing of developing world rights to the test.
Burnet’s diagnostic development team has worked with a number of different organisations to assist them in the development of unique and novel rapid POC diagnostics. These relationships range from straight contract work to collaborative projects in areas where Burnet has a focus interest.
Associate Professor Anderson and his team are collaborating with Axxin Ltd in Melbourne, Australia on the development of an inexpensive and robust instrument/reader for the CD4 test. This instrument provides greater accuracy and assists in training and quality control. The additional capabilities of the Axxin instrument will be important in the development of other much-needed point of care tests.
Developed by Associate Professor Gilda Tachedjian and her team, this facility assists researchers to screen compounds for their ability to inhibit the virus replication process, particularly for HIV and herpes viruses.
The Antiviral Screening Facility has the capacity to test chemical agents that will inhibit the replication of HIV and herpes simplex (HSV) type 1 and 2 viruses in cell culture assays. This means that researchers can accelerate the development of new methods that may lead to better treatments for these chronic infections.
The team has extensive experience in basic research and in particular in understanding the biology of retroviruses. Their expertise is highly regarded and all work undertaken by the facility is done using principles outlined in the FDA guidelines for Antiviral Product Development.
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