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Sydney researchers make coronavirus breakthrough

10 February 2020
Australian collaboration yields results
A team of health and medical experts at the University of Sydney and NSW Health, working around the clock, has grown the live virus to help diagnose and contain its spread.

Health experts around the world will be able to contain the spread of novel coronavirus among the population faster, following a breakthrough by University of Sydney and government researchers.

Researchers have used state-of-the-art biosecurity P4 laboratory to grow the live virus from NSW patients.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said: “Unless clinicians understand the epidemiology of the disease – how it behaves and replicates - they can’t develop reliable diagnostic testing to identify and contain it.

This cutting-edge work will expand access to faster, reliable diagnostic testing for infected patients.
Professor Dominic Dwyer

“A team of elite NSW researchers have achieved this by undertaking genome sequencing of the virus and growing the live virus from real patients as opposed to using synthetic materials.”

The team of 10 scientists and pathologists at NSW Health Pathology’s Institute of Clinical Pathology and Medical Research and clinicians at the University of Sydney and Westmead Hospital is hopeful efforts will support the race to develop an effective treatment and vaccine.

Professor Dominic Dwyer, from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Medicine and Health, who is NSW Health’s Director of Public Health Pathology, said the team had been working around the clock to cultivate the virus.

“This cutting-edge work will expand access to faster, reliable diagnostic testing for infected patients not just here in NSW but around the world,” Professor Dwyer said.

“Being able to cultivate the novel coronavirus with samples from NSW patients as opposed to trying to mimic it from synthetic specimens is a terrific breakthrough.

“We’re proud to be able to share our discovery with the World Health Organization, and international researchers and clinicians, so together we ultimately help save lives.”