Caister Academic Press

Applications of Real-time PCR to Biothreat Analysis

Christina Egan and Cassandra D. Kelly-Cirino
from: Real-Time PCR: Advanced Technologies and Applications (Edited by: Nick A. Saunders and Martin A. Lee). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2013)


With the public's reawakened concern regarding use of biological agents as weapons, the rapid detection, discrimination, and identification of pathogenic organisms and toxins has become a priority for state and federal government agencies. High confidence, cost effective, and near real-time diagnostic methods are essential to protecting national health security whether the target is public health, agriculture, commodities, or water supply infrastructures. While culture-based methods have been, and will likely remain, the gold standard for microbiological diagnostics, PCR-based tests offer significant advantages in sensitivity, specificity, speed, and data richness that make them invaluable to diagnostic laboratories. In this chapter, we will describe the application of real-time PCR methods in biodefense. We will discuss the use of real-time PCR in biodefense in terms of general workflow and processing considerations, clinical diagnostic applications, environmental diagnostic applications, and multiplex screening. Real-time PCR assays can be either quantitative (qPCR) or qualitative, depending on whether a standard curve is included with the analytical run. Most diagnostic and biodefense applications utilize the qualitative nature of real-time PCR as a detection platform; this chapter will focus on the benefits of these types of assays. Finally, we will consider the future uses and anticipated advances in real-time PCR applications as related to biodefense read more ...
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