The Mycobacterium Reference Laboratory (MRL) at VIDRL provides a statewide facility for referral of all mycobacterial isolates, including those from veterinary and environmental origins. Isolates are identified using a combination of biochemical and molecular techniques, including PCR based assays and DNA sequence analysis. Antibiotic susceptibility testing is performed when indicated for isolates identified as Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and certain atypical mycobacterial isolates, where appropriate.
The role of the MRL Molecular laboratory is to develop and apply rapid, molecular techniques to the identification of mycobacterial isolates, detection and identification of mycobacteria in clinical specimens and the typing of M. tuberculosis isolates for epidemiological purposes.
Additional roles of the MRL include:
Participation in Quality Assurance programs
Maintenance of an extensive reference collection of mycobacterial strains, both characterised and wild isolates
Provision of a nationwide facility for the RFLP typing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolates
Electronic storage of information for surveillance and epidemiological studies
Education, training and consultation
Collaboration in research projects relating to mycobacteria
The Mycobacterium ulcerans Collaborative Centre
This Centre was formally established in October 2001 to centralise and oversee all diagnostic and research activities in Victoria associated with M. ulcerans. Members of the Centre include all those associated with M. ulcerans diagnosis and/or research.