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16 April 2021
Austin Health’s Liver Transplant Unit is a world leader in research, with a focus on working towards making liver patient care more tailored and less invasive.
In 2020, it was identified that the purchase of a piece of equipment called a QIACube Connect machine would support this focus as well as revolutionising the research capacity of the team, with two currently completing PhDs.
The QIACube Connect is a fully automated and digitalised robot, which can extract DNA from multiple blood samples at high speed and with expert precision.
This machine would enable researchers to increase both the quantity of patient samples analysed, and the speed of the analysis.
The QIACube Connect would also eliminate the risk of error that comes with manual processing, therefore generating higher quality research results. Importantly, the machine may be able to help liver patients to avoid undergoing invasive biopsies, which can be risky, painful, and for some patients can mean lengthy trips to Melbourne from interstate or regional areas.
During the QIACube Connect appeal, the Austin Health Foundation asked if the community would help to supercharge the work of the Liver Transplant Unit through the purchase of this machine.
The response from the community was immense. Hundreds of messages and more than 1,600 donations were received, totalling $221,348. Many donations came from past liver patients and their families wishing to show their appreciation for the care they received at Austin Health.
‘‘Thank you for your devotion and care and all the wonderful work you are doing. You really are heroes,’ said one donor.
Thanks to this outpouring of support and gratitude from the community, the Liver Transplant Unit have not only been able to place the order the QIACube Connect, but will also be able to conduct additional research.
This will include studies involving viral infections in the post-liver transplant setting, fertility in the pre and post liver transplant patient group, the role of the intestinal microbiome in liver disease, and exploring new markers in predicting responses to treatment in liver cancer patients.
“The funds generously donated will have both an immediate and long felt benefit to our research team. The Austin Liver Research Team have been at the forefront of clinical research for a long time, but like all researchers, can only fulfil our aims with appropriate funding," says the Liver Transplant Unit’s A/Prof Adam Testro.
"My team and I were humbled by the generosity of the donors particularly given 2020 was such a difficult year for so many people," he says.