USC’s Catastrophic Global Disease Testing Research a Win for the World

Mark McArdle MP with Dr Joanne Macdonald near her lab at USC

Mark McArdle MP with Dr Joanne Macdonald near her lab at USC

State Member for Caloundra Mark McArdle today commended the life-changing research into rapid diagnostic testing for multiple tropical diseases being undertaken by Dr Joanne Macdonald at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

The technology Dr Macdonald and her team are developing would allow health practitioners to test for up to 10 different catastrophic global diseases on a single device allowing for faster quarantining and treatment for patients. At the moment each disease must be tested for separately.

“There is a very real, practical application to the research that Dr Macdonald and her team are undertaking however future funding needs to be secured to ensure it is able to continue.” Mr McArdle said.

“For example, in 2015, there were 429,000 deaths worldwide from Malaria alone. Having a way to instantly test for viruses including Ebola, Zika, Malaria, Hendra Virus, Dengue Fever, Murray Valley encephalitis and Rabies, has both national and global significance.”

“What’s more, this notable research project is taking place at our very own University, putting our people and the Sunshine Coast, in front of the world.” Mr McArdle said.

Dr Macdonald and her team have recently unveiled one of their multi-disease testing technologies which was published in the internationally acclaimed chemistry journal ChemPhysChem in May. This technology is an easy-to-read fluorescent display that identifies which of the seven strains of Rabies that a patient is suffering from, allowing quicker diagnosis and treatment.

“What is interesting about the diagnostics sample is that we have a mix of global and local diseases. We are motivated to develop our own diagnostics for disease such as Australian Bat Lyssavirus, Dengue Fever, Murray Valley encephalitis and Kunjin because they affect Australians.” Dr Macdonald said.

While this type of multi-disease testing will become a vital part of healthcare in developing countries, Dr Macdonald said that it has practical application Australia.

“I think the real value of our technology is its plug and play modularity. The test can be tailored to the diseases of the region” Dr Macdonald said.

“Additionally, we can develop the technology allowing expansion to more and more diseases in the future.”

The USC research project has not gone unnoticed with Dr Macdonald receiving funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as part of the organisation’s strategy to reduce the impact of “Neglected Tropical Diseases”. However, this vital funding will run out in October 31, 2017.

“We cannot ignore the significant role that USC plays in research and innovation. Our own people are being recognised by notable international organisations for the work that they are doing right here in our backyard.” Mr McArdle said.

“The wider Sunshine Coast community will understand and celebrate the immense talent that is both growing and flocking here.” Mr McArdle said.