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Trends Parasitol. 2011 Feb;27(2):53-8. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2010 Dec 16.

The impact of genetic diversity in protozoa on molecular diagnostics.

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Department of Microbiology and Diagnostics, Statens Serum Institut, Artillerivej 3, DK-2300 Copenhagen S, Denmark.


Detection of intestinal parasitic protists, commonly referred to as 'intestinal protozoa,' by PCR is increasingly used not only for identification or confirmation but also as a first-line diagnostic tool. Apart from the ability to sample correctly and extract parasite DNA directly from faeces, primer and probe specificity and sensitivity affect predictive values and hence the utility of diagnostic assays. Molecular characterization of intestinal protists is necessary to design primers and probes because this is the basic material for current and future improved diagnostic PCRs for either detecting all genetic variants or specifically differentiating among such variants. As an example, this paper highlights the existence of interspecific and intraspecific genetic diversity among intestinal, unicellular parasites and its implications for nucleic acid-based diagnostic assays.

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