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Int J Biol Markers. 2004 Apr-Jun;19(2):141-6.

Statistical diagnostics emerging from external quality control of real-time PCR.

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Institute of Medical Statistics and Biometry, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy.

Erratum in

  • Int J Biol Markers. 2004 Jul-Sep;19(3):256.


Besides the application of conventional qualitative PCR as a valuable tool to enrich or identify specific sequences of nucleic acids, a new revolutionary technique for quantitative PCR determination has been introduced recently. It is based on real-time detection of PCR products revealed as a homogeneous accumulating signal generated by specific dyes. However, as far as we know, the influence of the variability of this technique on the reliability of the quantitative assay has not been thoroughly investigated. A national program of external quality assurance (EQA) for real-time PCR determination involving 42 Italian laboratories has been developed to assess the analytical performance of real-time PCR procedures. Participants were asked to perform a conventional experiment based on the use of an external reference curve (standard curve) for real-time detection of three cDNA samples with different concentrations of a specific target. In this paper the main analytical features of the standard curve have been investigated in an attempt to produce statistical diagnostics emerging from external quality control. Specific control charts were drawn to help biochemists take technical decisions aimed at improving the performance of their laboratories. Overall, our results indicated a subset of seven laboratories whose performance appeared to be markedly outside the limits for at least one of the standard curve features investigated. Our findings suggest the usefulness of the approach presented here for monitoring the heterogeneity of results produced by different laboratories and for selecting those laboratories that need technical advice on their performance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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