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Yale J Biol Med. 1989 Mar-Apr;62(2):159-71.

In vitro amplification techniques for the detection of nucleic acids: new tools for the diagnostic laboratory.

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Department of Laboratory Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06510.


The acceptance of nucleic acid probes as diagnostic tools for the clinical laboratory has been hampered by a number of factors, including laborious techniques and limited sensitivity. The focus of this review is on the recent development of amplification techniques to enhance the signal generated by nucleic acid-based detection systems. Three general areas are discussed: (1) amplification of target sequences using the polymerase chain reaction or the transcript amplification system, (2) amplification of the probe sequences using Q beta replicase, and (3) amplification of probe-generated signals with compound or "Christmas tree" probes. The hope of these new technologies is to simplify yet improve on the sensitivity of nucleic acid-based tests to enable them to attain a more prominent place in the diagnostic repertoire of the clinical laboratory.

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