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Nucleic Acids Res. 1997 Aug 1;25(15):2979-84.

A branched DNA signal amplification assay for quantification of nucleic acid targets below 100 molecules/ml.

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Chiron Diagnostics, 4560 Horton Street, Emeryville, CA 94608, USA.


The branched DNA hybridization assay has been improved by the inclusion of the novel nucleotides, isoC and isoG, in the amplification sequences to prevent non-specific hybridization. The novel isoC, isoG-containing amplification sequences have no detectable interaction with any natural DNA sequence. The control of non-specific hybridization in turn permits increased signal amplification. Addition of a 14 site preamplifier was found to increase the signal/noise ratio 8-fold. A set of 74 oligonucleotide probes was designed to the consensus HIV POL sequence. The detection limit of this new HIV branched DNA amplifier assay was approximately 50 molecules/ml. The assay was used to measure viral load in 87 plasma samples of HIV- infected patients on triple drug therapy whose RNA titers were <500 molecules/ml. In all 11 patients viral load eventually declined to below the detection limit with the new assay.

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