“Dengue has a significant impact on both Australia and Indonesia—the disease is hyper-endemic in Indonesia and affects the daily life of people living in the country,” says Dr Tedjo Sasmono of the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology in Jakarta, where researchers have been working with The University of Queensland to create a new way to screen blood for dengue virus.
It’s the result of a joint-research project on dengue diagnostics, initiated in 2015 and funded by an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage grant in collaboration with the Australian Red Cross Blood Service.
A team led by Dr Andrea Ranzoni, Professor Matthew Cooper and Professor Paul Young at The University of Queensland developed a way to look for multiple natural markers of dengue fever in the blood, to screen donations for potential infection.
The test was then transferred to the Eijkman Institute, where Tedjo led the work to validate the test in the laboratory using dengue clinical samples. PhD student Sanjaya KC travelled to the Eijkman Institute to work in the lab for 10 days; and research staff in the Dengue Lab at the Eijkman Institute, Benediktus Yohan and Rahma Fitri Hayati, were also trained to use the new screening technique which identified 117 positive samples.
“The combined expertise of the Eijkman Institute and researchers at The University of Queensland has meant that we can work together to develop the next generation of dengue diagnostics, which can be used in dengue virus detection of a large number of samples during disease outbreak as well as for dengue screening in blood donations,” Tedjo says.
“The technology will be very useful, especially in Indonesia and surrounding countries which are endemic for dengue.”