More Aussies to get access to path tests

Australian patients will soon have access to a wide number of genetic tests usually only carried out in laboratories overseas.

Pathology tests for rare genetic conditions usually only carried out in overseas laboratories will soon be available to Australian patients.

A new global genetics service being set up by Sonic Healthcare will allow pathology samples to be collected from anywhere in Australia and analysed overseas, with the results sent direct to local GPs.

"If you are in Bunbury, Western Australia, and order a rare genetic test that we don't do in Australia but we do in our lab in Ingelheim, Germany, you can order that test in Bunbury," Sonic chief executive Colin Goldschmidt said.

"It will be done through our Clinipath lab in Perth and it will be sent to a Sonic lab in Germany and the result will be electronically transmitted back to you via Clinipath to your doctor in Bunbury.

"It truly is a big step forward for Australian pathology."

Dr Goldschmidt said the service would offer a broad range of genetic tests that will be assessed by Sonic's experts in Australia, Europe and the United States.

However patients will have to pay a private fee for the tests as most are not covered by Medicare.

One test that more Australian mums will be able to access is a non-invasive pre-natal test for Down syndrome.

Currently, Australian mums undergoing the test have their samples analysed overseas, meaning long wait times before they find out the results.

"By bringing this test in-house we will be able to improve the turnaround time fairly dramatically," Dr Goldschmidt said.

"So we don't need to send the test overseas.

"We certainly expect more of these tests as the field of genetics advances further."

The new service will be headed by genetics expert Professor Graeme Suthers in Australia and Prof Carson Bergman who runs Europe's biggest genetic lab, Bioscientia, in Germany.

Sonic is also setting up a genetics reference lab in the United States.

Source AAP

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