Digitally created image of a double helix

Genetic Repositories Australia (GRA)

FACILITY INFORMATION

Scientists around the world will soon be embarking on a race to discover the secrets of longevity by mapping the genome of 100 people aged over 100. This global, incentivized competition known as the Archon Genomics X PRIZE offers a $10 million prize awarded to the first team to rapidly, accurately and economically sequence 100 whole human genomes to an unprecedented level of accuracy. The GRA facility has been producing cell lines for the Sydney Centenarian Study and will be providing up to 15 Australian Centenarian samples to accompany others from around the world to hopefully provide researchers valuable clues to health and longevity. The ABC 730 Report talks more:

http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2012/s3479716.htm

New project additions have also seen the GRA facility supporting studies investigating the genomics of cerebral palsy, gene mutations for motor neuron disease and more recently stroke. We also continue to process samples for an international collaborative project investigating dominantly inherited Alzheimer’s disease (DIAN). NeuRA forms one of ten study sites in the US, UK and Australia that make up the DIAN Network. The DIAN Network utilises the GRA facility as the sole service provider for Australia. We are producing cell lines that are subsequently deposited into the National Cell Repository for Alzheimer’s disease (NCRAD) at the University of Illinois in the US.

Previously GRA became the first facility in Australia to acquire a fully automated high volume nucleic acid purification system (QIAGEN Autopure LS). With conventional manual DNA extraction methods both time and labour intensive, its acquisition has allowed GRA to be at the forefront in the provision of high volume DNA extraction services and has since increased GRA productivity and research efficiency resulting in consistent high quality DNA purification. DNA sample type extraction services have been expanded through the ability to fully automate processing of DNA from blood, saliva (Oragene®), cell lysates and transformed cell lines. GRA accepted delivery and installation of the unit in May 2008, over 10000 samples have already been processed.

A significant number of NHMRC and ARC funded research projects throughout Australia have already been supported by GRA’s enhanced research capacities by use of the Autopure unit being able to provide high quality, high molecular weight DNA samples suitable for archiving and excellent performance on sensitive downstream applications.

See what’s going on at NeuRA

FEEL THE BUZZ IN THE AIR? US TOO.

Spinal Cord Injury Breakthrough

Researchers from NeuRA, the University of New South Wales
the University of Sydney,
and HammondCare have found surviving sensory spinal nerve connections in 50 per cent of people living with complete thoracic spinal cord injuries. The study, which is part of
a decade-long collaboration between the researchers, used cutting-edge functional MRI (fMRI) technology to record neural response to touch. It was  Dr Sylvia Gustin who analysed the fMRI images to identify the moment the patient’s brain registered the touch. “Seeing the brain light up to touch shows that despite the complete injury to the thoracic spine, somatosensory pathways have been preserved,” explains Dr Gustin. “It’s fascinating that although the patients did not ‘feel’ the big toe stimulation in the experiment, we were able to detect a significant signal in response to the touch in the brain’s primary and secondary somatosensory cortices, the thalamus, and the cerebellum.” For those living with a complete spinal cord injury this means, despite previously believing
the communication to the brain had been severed in the injury, messages are still being received. Dr Gustin describes this new category of spinal cord injury as ‘discomplete’ “The current classification system is flawed. It only contains two types of spinal cord injury – complete and incomplete,” says Dr Gustin. “It is important we acknowledge there is a third category – the ‘discomplete’ injury, only then we can provide better treatment regimens for the many sufferers of a complete spinal cord injury.” For those newly classified as ‘discomplete’, this discovery opens up new opportunities to identify those people living with a spinal cord injury that are more likely to benefit from treatments aimed at improving sensation and movement. Because of this study, research participant, James Stanley, now knows he belongs to a new category. “It is exciting to know that there
is a connection there, that my toe is trying to say hello to my brain,” says James. “If medical professionals can work to identify people like me with a ‘discomplete’ injury earlier, perhaps they can find new treatments and rehabilitation techniques. “The thought that one day I might be able to feel the sand between my toes again, or the waves wash over my feet gives me hope. It’s something Dr Gustin’s discovery has made possible.”
PROJECT