Hendra virus research

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Hendra virus research


Some veterinarians are not immediately treating unvaccinated horses due to the risk of Hendra virus infections; instead they wait until the results of Hendra virus tests are returned. Horse owners are concerned that their horses are suffering and not receiving timely treatment.

  • What is Hendra virus?
  • Why aren’t horse owners vaccinating?
  • Why are Vets refusing to treat horses?
  • Is there another solution?

How USC is tackling this issue

Dr Joanne Macdonald and her research team at the University of the Sunshine Coast, including Joanna Kristoffersen, have theoretically developed a rapid assay that can detect Hendra-infected horse samples that is fast, sensitive, and is amendable to field adaptation.

This rapid detection technology is as sensitive as the current test, but operates in less than 10 minutes. It could be used to replace the existing lab assay to speed up the centralised testing. Importantly, the USC test would not place any additional burden or risk on the veterinarian beyond those already required to be taken in collecting samples to send to a central laboratory.

Joanna Kristoffersen

How you can support this historical innovation in disease research

There are several steps required before this research can be readily available to veterinarians to use in the field. This is where Dr Macdonald’s research team need your help. We would like to see this rapid assay in field trials next year and widely distributed throughout Australia by 2020.

It takes funding from all sources – especially from philanthropic individuals who recognise the value of this innovation.

With this in mind, a special fund has been established for those who would like to contribute towards the life-changing research. By making a donation to support rapid diagnostic technology you will assist in how Hendra Virus is detected and thus will contribute to the next step in eradication of this deadly disease.

Donate now: Make a donation via USC's secure online payment gateway.

100% of your donation will go towards Rapid Diagnostic Technology research, and any donations over $2 are tax deductible.

For more information on donating to this project contact Kate Evans, Senior Development Manager, USC Development Office.

Table 1: Benefits of the rapid assay compared to real-time PCR assays.
-New rapid assayCurrent assay
Speed < 10 minutes ~ 2.5 hours
Location Potential for field/clinic use Specialised laboratory
Sample handling Can be processed immediately Shipped to central laboratory (hours/days)
Readout View immediately by eye Requires expensive equipment
Simplicity Easy to operate Requires trained personnel
Sensitivity Highly sensitive Highly sensitive
Table 2: Example of the Hendra Rapid Diagnostic Technology research and timelines.
-Work requiredTimeline if funded
Research and development Assay optimisations and testing on incoming Hendra samples in Brisbane 4 months
Feasibility trial Mock trials at vet clinics to test usability 2 months
Infectivity study Demonstrate the optimised procedure is safe for vets to use 4 months
Preliminary approvals Getting the go-ahead from regulatory authorities for field trials 3 months
Prospective studies Ethics approved field trials 1 year
Final approvals Submit documentation for regulatory approval for commercial use 2 years


DG Westerner

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