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Brain Pathol. 2002 Jan;12(1):54-66.

Real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction: a potential tool for genetic analysis in neuropathology.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston 77030, USA.


Since its introduction in the early- to mid-1980s, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has been modified and optimized for an increasing number of applications. Early on, the focus was on the amplification of a specific nucleic acid template into quantities amenable to identification and experimental manipulation. While this remains an important application, recent technology has allowed the use of PCR to accurately quantitate the amount of a specific nucleic acid template present in a complex sample. Rather than simply analyzing the final product amount following the course of sequential cycles of amplification, quantitative PCR allows one to measure the accumulation of PCR product during the course of the reaction ("real-time PCR"). Under the appropriate conditions the number of PCR cycles required for the accumulation of a specific amount of product (during the exponential phase of the reaction) is a reflection of the relative amount of nucleic acid template present in the sample under analysis. Real-time quantitative PCR allows one to analyze a relatively large number of samples in a short period of time, potentially allowing multiple markers to be applied on a sample within a time frame consistent with clinical settings. In this overview, we will highlight the uses of real-time quantitative PCR as a potential diagnostic tool in neuropathology, focusing on the analysis of CNS tumors.

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