CRISPR/Cas as diagnostics tools

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A Phenomics Australia case study

Phenomics Australia NCRIS expertise is used in providing knowledge to look into the commercial and translational potential of CRISPR technology.

Phenomics Australia’s long-term support of the In vivo Genome Engineering and Disease Modelling nodes over the years has allowed researchers at the Melbourne Advanced Genome Editing Center (MAGEC) to have a solid understanding of CRISPR/Cas systems (particularly Cas9 in generating gene-modified mice), and this expertise has been extended to CRISPR diagnostics.

The c-FIND test accurately diagnoses infection in minutes: You can read the whole article here.

Researchers in Australia have developed a fast, new test for infections and infectious diseases that could transform Australia’s ability to provide targeted clinical care and respond to pandemics and biosecurity threats. 

Called c-FIND, the test has the potential to rapidly and accurately detect multiple viral, bacterial or fungal infections within minutes – much faster than existing tests which can take days, or even weeks, to return a result. 

The test is now being developed into a portable, ‘point-of-care’ diagnostic device. Equipping clinicians with this device would enable them to diagnose infections without delay, and immediately provide the best care to high-risk patients, such as people with cancer.

The c-FIND program of research is being led by the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, in collaboration with Melbourne HealthMurdoch Children’s Research InstitutePeter MacCallum Cancer CentreThe Royal Children’s HospitalUniversity of Melbourne, as well as industry partner and local biomedical technology company, Axxin Pty Ltd.

(L-R) Ashley Lisboa-Pinto (Research Assistant), Dr Andrew Kueh and Associate Professor Marco Herold pictured with a model of the c-FIND diagnostic device. Image credit: WEHI

How does c-FIND work?

MAGEC CRISPR expert Professor Marco Herold and his team at WEHI have successfully adapted CRISPR for the development of the c-FIND test. The use of CRISPR technology in the diagnostics space has unleashed exciting potential to accurately detect genetic traces of disease-causing microbes within minutes.

“Once fully developed, the c-FIND diagnostic would involve taking a blood, mucus or saliva sample from a patient and – with minimal preparation – applying this to a small cartridge. This cartridge would then be run through the device to rapidly screen for as many as eight different viral, fungal or bacterial organisms at a time,” Professor Herold said.

“c-FIND is fast as well as highly sensitive and specific. This means the technology has the ability to accurately identify if a person has certain infections, as well as rule out the infections a person does not have – it is unique for a test to excel in both these capabilities. Additionally, the system can be easily adapted to test for new and emerging infections,” he said.

Phenomics Australia provides a national centre of expertise and service provision to deploy CRISPR for increased speed, efficiency, and decreased cost for the production of animal strains carrying targeted mutations while maintaining the expertise for traditional transgenic technologies. To meet the high demand for this platform, Phenomics Australia offers genome editing services through four nodes across Australia, operating at MonashANUWEHI, and SAHMRI.

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