New rapid DNA test to diagnose chlamydia infection in koalas | 7/2/2019 | Staff
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A new DNA test to detect chlamydia infection in koalas which can be run in the field and gives on-the-spot results within 30 minutes has been developed in a research collaboration between researchers from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and University of Queensland (UQ) in Brisbane, Australia.

Research into the development and validation of the LAMP test was conducted by UQ Ph.D. student Lyndal Hulse, with supervisors QUT Immunology Professor Ken Beagley, who first proposed using LAMP technology to develop a koala chlamydia test, and UQ Zoologist Associate Professor Stephen Johnston. Their report on development and evaluation of the test has been published in the journal MicrobiologyOpen.

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The test detects the most common chlamydia strain that affects koalas, Chlamydia pecorum. Swabs of the urogenital tract and eyes are collected and the test is run on the OptiGene Genie platform. The equipment is distributed in Australia by GeneWorks, which assisted with the research project.

Ms Hulse said DNA testing for chlamydia in koalas is usually performed in a diagnostic laboratory using a molecular test known as PCR (polymerase chain reaction), which is the standard due to its reliability, sensitivity and specificity.

Veterinarians - Koala - Ecologists - Days - Samples

"However, this is time-consuming and wildlife veterinarians and koala ecologists have to wait days or longer after they have sent in their samples to get the results," she said.

"We wanted to design a test that was equally reliable and as accurate as PCR, but one that was more cost-effective, with simplistic swab preparation, that could be done at the point-of-care and provide on-the-spot results.

LAMP - Method

"The LAMP method provided that opportunity."

Professor Beagley said the LAMP koala chlamydia test was extremely sensitive, successfully detecting even small quantities of the bacteria present.

"When 43 clinical...
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