Faster, cheaper and more effective clinical research and diagnosis of a wide range of genetic diseases including neuromuscular disorders and cancers will be available to Western Australians after the commissioning of new state-of-the-art gene sequencing equipment.
The purchase of the equipment, located at the Lotterywest State Biomedical Facility: Genomics (LSBFG) at Royal Perth Hospital, was made possible by a generous gift from Perth businessman Mr Charles Morgan, the chair of Western Australia's Technology and Industry Advisory Council.
Mr Morgan's philanthropic donation has enabled the purchase of (SOLiD) genome sequencer systems and associated robotics which will provide medical and scientific staff across all universities and research organisations in WA access to genetic information for research and disease diagnosis at a level not previously achievable.
Along with health benefits, the equipment will also enable rapid genome sequencing for use in projects such as plant and animal-breeding in agriculture, and understanding the genetic diversity of native species in restoration ecology.
It will allow researchers to sequence an entire genome - human, animal or plant - for relatively low costs and quicker than ever before available in Western Australia.
UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Alan Robson said the facility would provide opportunities for Western Australian researchers to take part in internationally competitive research projects.
"As a result of Mr Morgan's generosity and vision, and with the support of our partner organisations, the research undertaken using this equipment will benefit the entire Western Australian community," Professor Robson said.
Mr Morgan said Western Australian researchers now had access to the latest sequencing platforms putting them on an equal footing with researchers across the rest of the world.
"This state has some of the world's most outstanding researchers. This technology will provide researchers with state of the art tools to uncover new and exciting answers to an amazing array of questions about genomes," Mr Morgan said.
The scientist in charge of the LSBFG, Associate Professor Richard Allcock, said the facility's aim was to enable internationally competitive research projects across Western Australia, as well as to develop diagnostic tests.
The equipment includes two high-capacity (SOLiD) genome sequencers, an OpenArray device for performing other genetic and expression analyses, and associated robotic equipment for the LSBFG, which is supported by UWA through the School of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, a strategic partnership between the University and PathWest Laboratory Medicine WA.
The equipment was purchased through Life Technologies in early December and has now been commissioned and is operational.