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Expanded Gippsland Pathology Service

A $1.3 million dollar expansion will assist researchers trying to develop a new test for Bovine Johne’s Disease

By Michelle Edmunds - 16th September 2002 - Back to News

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A $1.3 million dollar expansion of the Gippsland Pathology Service Laboratory will assist researchers trying to develop a new test for Bovine Johne’s Disease (BJD).

The new, purpose-built molecular biology and veterinary laboratories will create jobs for three additional scientists at Gippsland Pathology Service, which already employs 270 staff.

Importantly, local researchers will use the new molecular biology lab – which has state-of-the-art contamination control measures - to try to create a more reliable, real-time test for BJD. Gippsland Pathology Service is working with support from multinational Roche Diagnostics Australia P/L to develop a successful test, which would have a market worldwide.

The current BJD test relies on the identification of antibodies in the blood and there are concerns about its reliability.

"We’re trying to identify the BJD organism in bovine faeces using a quite new technology called RT-PCR (Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction)," Gippsland Pathology Service Managing Director Michael Ralston said.

"We’re using molecular technology to identify part of the gene that’s specific to the organism, and then after overcoming inhibitor in the faeces we amplify it millions of times to ensure it’s what we’re looking for."

Mr Ralston said the work was still in the early stages but could have worldwide implications for BJD testing if it proved successful.

"It would have enormous ramifications for breeders of beef cattle in the Gippsland region and beyond," he said.

CEO of the City of Latrobe Richard Hancock said the cutting edge work being conducted by Gippsland Pathology Service highlighted the success of new industries in the Latrobe Valley. The DNA technology in the new Molecular Biology wing is rarely seen in laboratories outside capital cities, and provides the only molecular diagnostic facility in regional Australia.

"Latrobe Valley is at the cutting edge of molecular science, with local researchers working on the development of a BJD test that would be invaluable to cattle exporters here and globally," Mr Hancock said.

"We’re thrilled to see this kind of work thriving in the Latrobe Valley and we congratulate Gippsland Pathology Service on its expansion."

Extensions to the Traralgon laboratory were launched last week by the Honourable Keith Hamilton MP, Minister for Agriculture.

Gippsland Pathology Service began operations in 1988 with 12 staff and has grown to 270 staff, with 6 laboratories throughout Gippsland and 24 collection centres. It now provides pathology services for medical practitioners, veterinarians and all public and private hospitals in the Gippsland region.

For more information:

Michael Ralston: Ph: 5174 0800

Richard Hancock: Ph: 5173 1441, 0417 168 511


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