What Is Molecular Diagnostics?
Molecular lab testing involves using various techniques for the detection and/or quantification of specific biological markers in the human, viral, and microbial proteome and genomes. Diseases are identified by studying DNA, RNA, and proteins in fluid or in a tissue, for the DNA or RNA sequences they encode. What are the various medical equipment for Molecular Diagnostics lab? Lets
Molecular testing is performed for Cancer, Pharmacogenomics (assessing drugs that most suitable for a person – personalized medicine), Genetic testing, Infectious disease, Prenatal, Neurological disease, Cardiovascular disease etc. Pathogen detection such as the identification of specific viral infections, including respiratory, urinary, vaginal, sexually-transmitted, gastrointestinal or other pathogens is part of work to identity infectious diseases.
A simple blood sample is enough to obtain genetic information from tumours, transplants or an unborn foetus. This is because nucleic acids required for molecular diagnostics methods capable of detecting sensitive bio-markers from small samples, are available in human plasma. As a result, these tests are less intrusive than say, a traditional biopsy and also capable of early detection.
Molecular diagnostic labs are making a big impact on the treatment of patients, as infectious and other diseases are being detected and treated sooner, with better accuracy. Some of the tests under molecular diagnostics overlap with clinical chemistry (investigations on body fluids) and in vitro biological assays such as PCR-ELISA or Fluorescence in situ hybridization etc.
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is the most popular method in molecular diagnostics based on nucleic acid detection. PCR is used to increase the number of nucleic acid molecules, thereby amplifying the target sequence(s) in the sample.
While PCR is currently the most widely used method for detection of DNA sequences, other techniques like Real Time PCR (qPCR), direct sequencing, microarray chips, dPCR etc. are also gaining ground. Microarray chips are prefabricated chips that test many markers at the same time. High-throughput protein arrays can use complementary DNA or antibodies to bind and hence can detect many different proteins at the same time.
Growth of Molecular Diagnostics Market
Scope for RT-PCR testing has grown manifold in the recent years due to COVID-19. However, even in the future even without Covid testing, RT-PCR / qPCR (also called quantitative PCR) or dPCR (digital PCR) as against traditional PCR are expected to gain ground due to incidence of genetic disorders, prevalence of infectious diseases, growing utilization of bio-markers for disease diagnostics such as Cancer, CVD etc. The advantage of molecular diagnostic methods over other methods, say biopsy, is that it is less invasive and provides an opportunity for early detection and treatment of the underlying disease.
What Equipment Are Needed In A Molecular Diagnostic Lab?
The main products used in Molecular Diagnostics Lab are Equipment/instruments, reagents, and consumables. Reagent are used to cause a chemical reaction. Consumables used are pipettes, micro-pipettes, slides, protective gears etc.
Various types of equipment, reagents and consumables are used based on Technology applied for the testing – DNA sequencing, Polymerase Chain Reaction, Isothermal Nucleic Acid Amplification Technology, Transcription Mediated Amplification, In situ hybridization, Microarrays, Mass spectrometry, Others (southern blotting, northern blotting), Gel or Capillary electrophoresis, STR analysis, Reverse Transcriptase, Direct sequencing, Nucleic acid isolation and quantification etc.
Depending on the scope of work involved, equipment needed for molecular diagnostic lab typically includes the following:
- Vortex Mixer
- Thermal Cycler
- DNA Sequencer
- Electrophoresis System
- pH Meter
- Water Bath
- Gel Imaging System
- Orbital Shakers
- Biosafety cabinet
- Laminar Airflow
- Blotting systems
- Hematology Analyzer
- Clinical Chemistry Analyser etc.
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