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Clin Chim Acta. 2006 Jan;363(1-2):48-60. Epub 2005 Aug 18.

Real-time assays with molecular beacons and other fluorescent nucleic acid hybridization probes.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Genetics, Public Health Research Institute, Newark, NJ 07103, USA.



A number of formats for nucleic acid hybridization have been developed to identify DNA and RNA sequences that are involved in cellular processes and that aid in the diagnosis of genetic and infectious diseases.


The introduction of hybridization probes with interactive fluorophore pairs has enabled the development of homogeneous hybridization assays for the direct identification of nucleic acids. A change in the fluorescence of these probes indicates the presence of a target nucleic acid, and there is no need to separate unbound probes from hybridized probes.


The advantages of homogeneous hybridization assays are their speed and simplicity. In addition, homogeneous assays can be combined with nucleic acid amplification, enabling the detection of rare target nucleic acids. These assays can be followed in real time, providing quantitative determination of target nucleic acids over a broad range of concentrations.

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