Molecular Diagnostic Approaches in Infectious Disease
This chapter examines the role of nucleic acid detection assays in the clinical microbiology laboratory, looking at applications for the detection and identification of microbial pathogens. Flow cytometry is of particular interest to the clinical laboratory because the basic technology is common and well established for antibody–antigen interactions, and is adaptable to probing nucleic acid interactions. As typical flow cytometers are able to detect up to four fluorescent channels, novel assays for the detection of infectious disease agents may allow multiplex detection of a nucleic acid panel in a single tube. Nucleic acid-based assays have proven indispensable for modern investigation of infectious diseases and their causative agents, speeding pathogen identification, elucidating pathologies, and identifying genetic markers of clinical importance. Most commercially available assays and those described in the scientific literature have enhanced the detection of microbial agents with respect to the more conventional approaches, increasing the attractiveness of this broad family of technologies in a clinical setting.