Nucleic acids technologies (NAT) are a core competency at the
National Diagnostics Centre. The NAT competency in the DNA
Diagnostics group at the NDC is relevant to the strategic
research aims of NUI, Galway and the team are bringing
this competency to projects funded through the PRTLI, EU Sixth
Framework, Enterprise Ireland and Marine Strategic -Advanced
Technologies Programmes. The NAT skills base at the NDC has been
identified as a complimentary technology for integration with
platforms and nano-systems under development in other Irish
Universities. This competency is relevant to the Irish BioIndustry,
particularly to the diagnostics, biopharma and drug discovery
The DNA diagnostics group at the NDC is engaged in the following
Technology Development and
Provision of Pre-Incubation
facilities to industry
Contract research for
The group has expertise in the following areas:
diagnostic assay design-conventional and real-time in-vitro
amplification based platforms
of novel targets for molecular diagnostic assay
Nucleic acid extraction methods for complex samples
provision of molecular testing services
R+D activities are related to:
Dr. Majella Maher,
DNA Diagnostics Group,
National Diagnostics Centre,
National University of Ireland,Galway.
Ph: 353 91 492842 X 2089; 353 91 492089 (direct)
Fax: 353 91 586570
research for Biopharma and Biodiagnostics
The group is currently involved as an R+D partner in an
Enterprise-Ireland funded programme aimed at addressing the
"generic" needs of biodiagnostics and biopharmaceutical
industries. Two R+D themes have been identified for this first
programme- "In-line analysis for BioProcessing" and
"Quantitative POC for protein marker detection". Phase 1
of this programme which is a feasibility project aimed at generating
a technology roadmap in both project areas is due to commence in
July 05 with the expectation that multidisciplinary R+D project
proposals will be formulated during the feasibility phase and
submitted to EI for funding in Q4 2005.
tests for the Food sector:
Food is a major source of exposure to pathogenic microorganisms.
Foods contaminated with unacceptable levels of pathogens represent a
substantial health risk to consumers and severe economic burdens on
individual communities and nations. At a recent pan-European
conference on food quality and safety, jointly organised by the UN
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health
Organization (WHO), the pathogens identified by expert consultants
as requiring immediate attention included Listeria in ready to eat
foods, Campylobacter in poultry and Salmonella in eggs and poultry
(www.who.int/inf/en/pr-2002). Recent serious and high profile cases
of outbreaks of food poisoning within Ireland, the UK and the US has
lead to heightened public awareness and concern over food-borne
illness. Increased public concern has resulted in consumer demands
for assurances from the food industry as to the microbiological
quality and safety of food and food products. These outbreaks have
also highlighted the need for new improved, user friendly and cost
effective diagnostics assays to enable the effective monitoring of
food during preparation and processing for human consumption.
The DNA Diagnostics group at the NDC is working closely with
researchers in the department of Microbiology at NUI, Galway and the
National Centre of BioMedical Engineering science applying their
expertise to exploit an NUI, Galway owned patented genomic target
platform technology to develop rapid NAT tests based on real-time
PCR and RT-PCR technologies for common food-borne pathogens,
Listeria, Campylobacter and Salmonella. The current focus of the
research programme is on demonstrating the application of these NAT
tests in food testing.
tests for the Marine sector:
In 2002, exports of Irish shellfish were worth in excess of €50
million. In order to meet EU legislation pertaining to production
and export of shellfish (Council directive 91/492/EEC), the Marine
Institute have implemented a national biotoxin monitoring programme.
As part of the monitoring service, more than 2000 water samples
collected annually from shellfish production sites are monitored for
the presence of toxic algal species. Current identification of
species relies on microscopy which is very useful in providing a
global view of phytoplankton species present in water samples and
also in precisely identifying selected toxic species for example
Dinophysis sps. and Protoperidenium sps. However, there are a number
of toxic species that are difficult to identify by microscopy
including Alexandrium tamaranse, A. minutum and Pseudo-nitzschia
The DNA Diagnostics group at the NDC is working with researchers
at the Martin Ryan Institute at NUI, Galway and the Marine Institute
(MI) to develop NAT tests based on FISH and real-time PCR
technologies for the identification of phytoplankton species of
concern in Irish waters. To date, real-time PCR assays for the
detection and discrimination of toxic and non-toxic Alexandrium
species have been developed and their application to species
identification in samples collected for routine monitoring has been
demonstrated. In the period 2005-2008, the team will work
closely with the MI to develop NAT tests for other species with the
aim of transferring the NAT technologies to MI in the final phase of
the project for application in the routine monitoring service.
acid tests for the Clinical Microbiology Sector:
The DNA Diagnostics group has significant expertise in the design
and validation of NAT tests for application in the clinical
microbiology sector. Previously, the group has worked with a number
of industrial partners, including Belgian Diagnostics Company,
Innogenetics and Roche Molecular Systems to develop commercial NAT
tests for the infectious disease market. Current R+D focus within
the team is on the further development and validation of an NAT test
for C. albicans which is the subject of a NUI, Galway patent filing.
The team is also involved in a EU funded project aimed at developing
nucleic acid based biosensor tests for respiratory pathogens. The
group has a number of ongoing projects focused on the development of
molecular diagnostic assays for infectious diseases.
Lavery, R. Houghton, J.A., Nolan, A. Glennon, M. Egan, D. and
Maher M. CAG repeat length in an infertile male population of Irish
origin. Genetica, 123, 295-302. O' Connor, L., Lahiff, S., Casey,
F., Glennon, M., Cormican, M. and Maher, M. (2005). Quantification
of ALS1 gene expression in Candida albicans biofilms by RT-PCR using
hybridisation probes on the LightCyclerTM. Mol. Cell Probes. 11,
Fitzmaurice, J., Duffy, G., Kilbride, B., Sheridan, J. J.,
Carroll, C. and Maher, M. (2004). Comparison of a membrane surface
adhesion recovery method with an IMS method for use in a polymerase
chain reaction method to detect Escherichia coli 0157:H7 in minced
beef. J. Microbiol. Methods. 59, 243-252.
Fitzmaurice, J., Glennon, M., Duffy, G., Sheridan, J. J.,
Carroll, C. and Maher, M. (2004). Application of real-time PCR and
RT-PCR assays for the detection and quantitation of VT1 and VT2
toxin genes in E. coli 0157:H7. Mol. Cell. Probes 18, 123-132.
Morris, D., O'Hare, C., Glennon, M., Maher, M., Corbett-Feeney,
G. and Cormican, M. (2003). Extended-Spectrum -Lactamases in
Ireland, including a novel enzyme, TEM-102. Antimicrobial Agents
Chemother. 47, 2572-2578.
Fallon, R., O' Sullivan, N., Maher, M. and Carroll, C. (2003).
Antimicrobial resistance in Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter
coli isolates from broiler chickens isolated from an Irish poultry
processing plant. Letts. Appl. Microbiol. 36, 277-28.
Devaney, J., Maher, M., Smith, T., Houghton, J. A. and Glennon,
M. (2003). HFE Alleles in an Irish Cystic Fibrosis population.
Genetic testing.7, 155-158.
Maher, M., Finnegan, C., Collins, E., Ward, B., Carroll, C. and
Cormican, M. (2003). An evaluation of culture methods and a PCR/DNA
probe assay for detection of Campylobacter species in clinical
specimens of faeces. J. Clin. Microbiol. 41, 2980-2986.
Devaney, J., Glennon, M., Farrell, G., Ruttledge, M., Smith, T.,
Houghton, J. A. and Maher, M. (2003). Cystic fibrosis mutation
frequencies in an Irish population. Clinical Genetics 63,121-125.
Ryan, K. A., Moran, A. P., Little, C. L., Glennon, M., Smith, T. and
Maher, M. (2002).Detection and identification of Helicobacter pylori
directly from gastric biopsies using polymerase chain reaction. Ir.
J. Med. Sci. 171:117. Lahiff, S., Glennon, M., Lyng, J., Shilton,
N., Smith, T. and Maher, M. (2002). Real-Time PCR assay for the
detection of bovine material in meat and bone meal. J. Food Prot.
Friel, A., Houghton, J. A., Glennon, M., Smith, T., Nolan, A. and
Maher, M. (2002). Using RT-PCR to detect DAZ, RBMY and USP9Y RNA in
testicular biopsy samples from azoospermic men. Int. J. Androl. 25,
Collins, E., Glennon, M., Hanley, S., Murray, A-M., Cormican, M.,
Smith, T. and Maher, M. (2001). Evaluation of a PCR/DNA probe
colorimetric membrane assay for the identification of Campylobacter
spp. in human stool specimens. J. Clin. Microbiol. 39, 4163-4165.
Ryan, K., van Doorn, L-J., Glennon, M., Smith, T., Moran, A. P.
and Maher, M. (2001). Evaluation of clarithromycin resistance in
Helicobacter pylori strains from the west of Ireland using Line
Probe assays. J. Clin. Microbiol. 39, 1978-1980.
Friel, A., Houghton, J. A., Maher, M., Smith, T., Noël, S.,
Nolan, A., Egan, D. and Glennon, M. (2001). Molecular detection of Y
chromosome microdeletions: An Irish study. Int. J. Androl. 24,
Lahiff, S., Glennon, M., O'Brien, L., Lyng, J., Smith, T., Maher,
M. and Shilton, N. (2001). Species-specific PCR for the
identification of bovine, ovine, porcine and poultry species in meat
and bone meal (MBM). Mol. Cell. Probes 15, 27-35.
Colgan, S., O' Brien, L., Maher, M., Shilton, N., McDonnell, K.
and Ward, S. (2001). Development of a DNA-based assay for species
identification in meat and bone meal. Food. Res. Int. 34, 409-414.
Grennan, B., O'Sullivan, N., Fallon, R., Carroll, C., Smith, T.,
Glennon, M. and Maher, M. (2001). PCR-ELISA assays for the detection
of Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli in poultry samples.
Biotechniques 30, 602-6, 608-10.
Glennon, M. and Maher, M. (2001). Nucleic acid-based diagnostics:
past, present and future. Clinical Laboratory International, 25,
Smith, T. J., O' Connor, L., Glennon, M., and Maher, M. (2000).
Molecular diagnostics in food safety: rapid detection of food-borne
pathogens. Ir. J. Agri. Food Res. 39, 309-319.
Morris, D., Glennon, M., Maher, M., Barry, T., Ni Riain, U.,
Corbett-Feeney, G. and Cormican, M. (2000). Detection of extended
spectrum beta-lactamase producing bacteria in Irish hospitals and
evidence of Inter-hospital spread. Ir. J. Med. Sci. 169, 20.
O'Connor, L., Joy, J., Kane, M., Smith, T. J. and Maher, M.
(2000). Rapid Polymerase Chain Reaction/DNA Probe Membrane-Based
Assay for the detection of Listeria and Listeria monocytogenes in
Food. J. Food Prot. 63, 337-342.
O'Sullivan, N. A., Fallon, R., Carroll, C., Smith, T. and Maher,
M. (2000). Detection and differentiation of Campylobacer jejuni and
Campylobacter coli in broiler chicken samples using a PCR/DNA probe
membrane based colorimetric detection assay. Mol. Cell. Probes 14,
Martin, C., Roberts, D., van der Weide, M., Rossau, R., Jannes,
G., Smith, T. and Maher, M. (2000). Development of a PCR-based line
probe assay for the identification of fungal pathogens. J. Clin.
Microbiol. 38, 3735-3742.
Ryan, K., Moran, A. P., Hynes, S. O., Smith, T. J., Hyde, D., O'
Morain, C. and Maher, M. (2000). Genotyping cagA and vacA, Lewis
antigen status, and analysis of the poly-(C) tract in the
a(1,3)-fucosyltransferase gene in Irish Helicobacter pylori
isolates. FEMS Microbiol. Lett. 28, 113-119.