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Clin Chem. 2019 Nov 8. pii: clinchem.2019.304048. doi: 10.1373/clinchem.2019.304048. [Epub ahead of print]

Digital PCR-An Emerging Technology with Broad Applications in Microbiology.

Author information

1
Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.
2
Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA kjerome@fredhutch.org.
3
Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The PCR and its variant, quantitative PCR (qPCR), have revolutionized the practice of clinical microbiology. Continued advancements in PCR have led to a new derivative, digital PCR (dPCR), which promises to address certain limitations inherent to qPCR.

CONTENT:

Here we highlight the important technical differences between qPCR and dPCR, and the potential advantages and disadvantages of each. We then review specific situations in which dPCR has been implemented in clinical microbiology and the results of such applications. Finally, we attempt to place dPCR in the context of other emerging technologies relevant to the clinical laboratory, including next-generation sequencing.

SUMMARY:

dPCR offers certain clear advantages over traditional qPCR, but these are to some degree offset by limitations of the technology, at least as currently practiced. Laboratories considering implementation of dPCR should carefully weigh the potential advantages and disadvantages of this powerful technique for each specific application planned.

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