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2.  Detection of human herpesvirus 8 by quantitative polymerase chain reaction: development and standardisation of methods 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2012;12:210.
Human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8), the aetiological agent of Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS), multicentric Castleman’s disease (MCD), and primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) is rare in Australia, but endemic in Sub-Saharan Africa, parts of South-east Asia and Oceania. While the treatment of external KS lesions can be monitored by clinical observation, the internal lesions of KS, MCD and PEL require extensive and expensive internal imaging, or autopsy. In patients with MCD and PEL, if HHV-8 viraemia is not reduced quickly, ~50% die within 24 months. HHV-8 qPCR is a valuable tool for monitoring HHV-8 viraemia, but is not available in many parts of the world, including those with high prevalence of KS and HHV-8.
A new molecular facility with stringent three-phase workflow was established, adhering to NPAAC and CLSI guidelines. Three fully validated quantitative assays were developed: two for detection and quantification of HHV-8; one for GAPDH, necessary for normalisation of viral loads in tissue and peripheral blood.
The HHV-8 ORF73 and ORF26 qPCR assays were 100% specific. All qPCR assays, displayed a broad dynamic range (102 to 1010 copies/μL TE Buffer) with a limit of detection of 4.85x103, 5.61x102, and 2.59x102 copies/μL TE Buffer and a limit of quantification of 4.85x103, 3.01x102, and 1.38x102 copies/μL TE Buffer for HHV-8 ORF73, HHV-8 ORF26, and GAPDH respectively.
The assays were tested on a panel of 35 KS biopsies from Queensland. All were HHV-8 qPCR positive with average viral load of 2.96x105 HHV-8 copies/μL DNA extract (range: 4.37x103 to 1.47x106 copies/μL DNA extract): When normalised these equate to an average viral load of 2.44x104 HHV-8 copies/103 cells (range: 2.20x102 to 7.38x105 HHV-8 copies/103 cells).
These are the first fully optimised, validated and MIQE compliant HHV-8 qPCR assays established in Australia. They worked well for qualitative detection of HHV-8 in archival tissue, and are well-suited for quantitative detection in whole blood. They are now available for research, for clinical diagnosis of HHV-8 infection, and for monitoring treatment efficacy.
PMCID: PMC3490733  PMID: 22963082
HHV-8; Kaposi’s sarcoma; Human herpesvirus 8; Molecular diagnostics; Laboratory establishment
3.  Co-circulation of Four Human Coronaviruses (HCoVs) in Queensland Children with Acute Respiratory Tract Illnesses in 2004 
Viruses  2012;4(4):637-653.
Acute respiratory illnesses (ARIs) with unconfirmed infectious aetiologies peak at different times of the year. Molecular diagnostic assays reduce the number of unconfirmed ARIs compared to serology- or culture-based techniques. Screening of 888 inpatient and outpatient respiratory specimens spanning late autumn through to early spring, 2004, identified the presence of a human coronavirus (HCoV) on 74 occasions (8.3% of all specimens and 26.3% of all respiratory virus detections). Prevalence peaked in August (late winter in the southern hemisphere) when they were detected in 21.9% of specimens tested. HCoV-HKU1 and HCoV-OC43 comprised 82.4% of all HCoVs detected. Positive specimens were used to develop novel reverse transcriptase real-time PCRs (RT-rtPCRs) for HCoV detection. An objective clinical severity score was assigned to each positive HCoV patient. Severity scores were similar to those from a random selection of young children who were positive for respiratory syncytial virus at a different time but from the same specimen population. During the cooler months of 2004, sensitive and specific RT-rtPCRs identified the concurrent circulation of all four HCoVs, a quarter of which co-occurred with another virus and most of which were from children under the age of two years.
PMCID: PMC3347326  PMID: 22590689
respiratory virus; coronavirus; HCoV-HKU1; HCoV-NL63; HCoV-229E; HCoV-OC43; real-time PCR; clinical impact

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