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Immunol Invest. 1997 Jan-Feb;26(1-2):9-13.

Branched DNA for quantification of viral load.

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Chiron Corporation, Emeryville, California 94608, USA.


This is a summary of a presentation made at the 13th International Convocation on Immunology. Nucleic acids in patient samples can be quantified directly using a solid phase nucleic acid hybridization assay based on branched DNA (bDNA) signal amplification technology. For example, HIV RNA is detected in a plasma sample by hybridization of multiple specific synthetic oligonucleotides to the target, 10 of which capture the target onto the surface of a microwell plate and 39 of which mediate hybridization of branched DNA molecules to the pol region of each HIV RNA molecule. Alkaline phosphatase-labeled probes bind to each arm of the branched DNA molecules. Detection is achieved by incubating the complex with a chemiluminescent substrate and measuring the light emission. The signal is directly proportional to the level of target nucleic acid, and the quantity of HIV RNA in a sample is determined by comparison with a 4-point standard curve. In order to ensure that different subtypes of HIV-1 were detected and quantified equally, in vitro RNA transcripts of the pol region of HIV subtypes A-F were purified and quantified by OD 260, phosphate analysis, and hyperchromicity. These characterized transcripts were then quantified using the bDNA assay. Comparisons were made using a ratio of signal per attomole for each transcript. Genetic subtypes A-F quantified within a factor of 1.5, indicating that the bDNA assay can be used to measure viral load in clinical samples regardless of genotype. Accuracy is important because several studies indicate that there may be a threshold level of virus which predicts progression of HIV disease. Detection of change in viral load is important in determining the efficacy of therapy. The bDNA assay for HCV RNA can be used to determine level of virus in HCV-infected individuals and assist in establishing prognosis prior to initiation of alpha-interferon therapy. Patients with lower levels of virus are more likely to have a sustained response to therapy. Patients who respond to treatment typically have a rapid decline in virus load within one to four weeks of the start of therapy. Many patients relapse when therapy is discontinued as evidenced by a rise in virus load to near pre-treatment levels. Sustained response is most often seen with patients who have lower pre-treatment levels of RNA.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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