The Health News – 21 March 2016

Overview:
• As part of a $25 million Victorian Government investment to improve the analysis of genetic information, the Melbourne Genomics Health Alliance will extend its research into five more areas.

• A fourth person has died of Ebola in Guinea in the latest flare-up of an epidemic that has killed more than 11,300 people in that country, Sierra Leone and Liberia since 2013 but now claims few victims.

• Australia’s first autism biobank will be opening in Brisbane paving the way for what researchers hope will lead to an earlier and more accurate diagnosis of the disorder.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 21st of March 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-20/genetic-sequencing-available-for-more-victorian-patients/7261138

Up to 800 Victorian patients will soon be able to access genetic sequencing to help speed up diagnosis time and improve the treatment of illnesses.

As part of a $25 million Victorian Government investment to improve the analysis of genetic information, the Melbourne Genomics Health Alliance will extend its research into five more areas.

Those areas include immune disorders, poor heart function, congenital deafness and lymphatic cancers.

Health Minister Jill Hennessy said 800 patients would have their entire DNA mapped over the next two years.

“Some patients have spent up to 15, 20, in some cases most of their life searching for a diagnosis,” she said.

“We will be able to get a quick diagnosis, this will enable us to get to the bottom of a disease or illness much more quickly and to come up with a better treatment plan that’s personalised for a patient.”

Ms Hennessy said the funding would save money in the long term and genomic sequencing was an important opportunity for people with inherited illnesses.

“It can help us better understand why a person has an illness or a disease,” she said.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-20/ebola-fourth-person-dies-in-guinea/7261234

A fourth person has died of Ebola in Guinea in the latest flare-up of an epidemic that has killed more than 11,300 people in that country, Sierra Leone and Liberia since 2013 but now claims few victims.

“The young girl who was hospitalised at the Ebola treatment centre …is dead,” Fode Tass Sylla, spokesman for the centre that coordinates Guinea’s fight against the virus, said.

Three others have died of the virus since February 29. Health workers on Saturday also stepped up efforts to trace anyone who could have come into contact with the family.

The world’s worst recorded Ebola epidemic is believed to have started in Guinea and killed about 2,500 people there by December last year, at which point the UN World Health Organisation (WHO) said it was no longer actively transmitted.

WHO warned, however, that Ebola could resurface at any time, since it can linger in the eyes, central nervous system and bodily fluids of some survivors.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-19/autism-biobank-opens-for-early-detection-research/7257454

Australia’s first autism biobank will open in Brisbane [today]…, paving the way for what researchers hope will lead to an earlier and more accurate diagnosis of the disorder.

Nearly 5,000 samples of blood, hair and urine, taken from autistic children, their parents and a control group, will be stored in freezers and could one day deliver the answers to what causes the condition.

Autism Queensland said parents typically raised concerns when their child was 12 months old, however in general they did not get diagnosed until at least two years later.

The organisation’s children’s services manager Pam Macrossan said there was a substantial gap between the age at which a reliable and accurate diagnosis of autism was possible and the average age that children were currently diagnosed.

“Early intervention … works with families who are with their child in every waking moment and teaches parents how to build that social interaction and … build that social brain and reduce that cascading effect of autism,” she said.

“If there was a blood test or there was some sort of pathology or genetic testing that would diagnose children you would be able to start intervention very early.”

A recent report found improved long-term outcomes associated with early behavioural intervention for autism, commencing at three years of age, reduces the support costs to society by approximately $1.6 million over a lifetime, Autism Queensland said.

The samples will be collected across Australia and sent to the tissue bank at the Wesley Hospital.