Burnet Institute’s international Clinical Research Laboratory (iCRL) has been accredited by the World Health Organization (WHO) for HIV-1 Drug Resistance (HIVDR) testing from dried blood spots (DBS), making it one of only five laboratories worldwide with this status.
One of the biggest hurdles in expanding HIVDR testing to resource-limited settings in the Asia-Pacific Region is sample preservation.
Most HIVDR assays are only validated for use on plasma (the liquid component of blood) samples, however plasma requires cold-chain transport and processing equipment that most laboratories in resource limited settings lack.
In contrast, DBS can be easily collected by staff with limited training, are non-bio-hazardous and can be shipped in regular mail at room temperature.
The use of DBS will be critical in efforts to expand HIVDR testing to regions that need it most.
ICRL, under Professor Suzanne Crowe AM, is also undertaking a large-scale evaluation to determine the best method for extracting and amplifying HIV from DBS including our own in-house method.
To round off a highly successful year, the Harold and Cora Brennen Benevolent Trust awarded iCRL a grant to purchase the required equipment to continue DBS HIVDR testing for ongoing surveillance studies.
This equipment was previously accessed in kind from BioMérieux Australia for test design.
ICRL has been the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Reference Laboratory for HIV-1 Drug Resistance (HIVDR) testing in the Asia-Pacific Region since 2007, performing HIVDR surveillance studies for countries in the region which lack the facilities and resources to perform this critical testing in-country.