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Mil Med. 2001 Mar;166(3):237-9.

Multiplexing for the detection of multiple biowarfare agents shows promise in the field.

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520th Theater Army Medical Laboratory, 44th Medical Brigade, 18th Airborne Corps, USA.


Standard amplification of nucleic acids, or polymerase chain reaction (PCR), is replacing the more traditional microbiological assays in the detection of biological agents. However, standard PCR is designed as a one program-to-one agent amplification method, and not knowing what agents to test for makes this approach time consuming. During a field training exercise to detect four biowarfare agents using the standard PCR method, we conducted an additional experiment that reduced the diagnostic time to one-fourth. By reprogramming the four amplification programs to one program and preparing a cocktail containing the four different primer sets for the agents (known as multiplexing, or mPCR), we were able to amplify the four genetically different biological agents simultaneously. This is the first time a military unit has performed this kind of field testing, and it shows promise for the early detection of multiple biowarfare agents.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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