New World-First Technology Use at Saskatchewan Disease Control Laboratory

Tyler McMurchy, 306-787-4083HealthRegina

Saskatchewan patients will benefit from faster, more accurate disease identification, thanks to a ground-breaking new technology in infectious disease testing at the Saskatchewan Disease Control Laboratory (SDCL).

Health Minister Dustin Duncan today announced a new testing method using BioMark equipment, which allows the SDCL to quickly and definitively test for many diseases at the same time, rather than doing separate tests for one specific disease. This allows physicians to provide better care to their patients, saving time and money.

“Scientists at the SDCL have adapted existing technology to health care, creating a world first right here in Saskatchewan,” Duncan said. “We can be proud of Saskatchewan’s continuing position as a health care leader. Our goal is to put patients first in everything we do.”

Beginning this week, researchers at the SDCL are using the BioMark equipment to test for diseases such as influenza A and norovirus, and will test for all major respiratory diseases by summer. The technology is capable of providing up to 96 results per sample.

Regina biochemist Dr. Nick Antonishyn led the team of Saskatchewan scientists and technical staff in developing BioMark’s health care application, in partnership with Fluidigm, a California technology company.

The addition of this testing equipment broadens the scope of the SDCL’s existing services which include testing at a level three containment lab, testing for and monitoring environmental specimens (such as well-water samples), food-bourne illnesses, communicable diseases and influenza. Neonatal screening programs are also provided by the laboratory, as are biosafety and biohazard spill response programs.

The government committed $400,000 in its provincial budget to the SDCL for equipment and capital. Of that amount, $275,000 will be used to pay for this new testing technology.

The SDCL is located at Innovation Place, adjacent to the University of Regina. The state-of-the-art facility opened in 2010.

Saskatchewan has had a provincial laboratory since 1905.

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