, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 173-186
Date: 03 Jun 2012

Nucleic acid-based diagnostics for infectious diseases in public health affairs

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Abstract

Infectious diseases, mostly caused by bacteria and viruses but also a result of fungal and parasitic infection, have been one of the most important public health concerns throughout human history. The first step in combating these pathogens is to get a timely and accurate diagnosis at an affordable cost. Many kinds of diagnostics have been developed, such as pathogen culture, biochemical tests and serological tests, to help detect and fight against the causative agents of diseases. However, these diagnostic tests are generally unsatisfactory because they are not particularly sensitive and specific and are unable to deliver speedy results. Nucleic acid-based diagnostics, detecting pathogens through the identification of their genomic sequences, have shown promise to overcome the above limitations and become more widely adopted in clinical tests. Here we review some of the most popular nucleic acid-based diagnostics and focus on their adaptability and applicability to routine clinical usage. We also compare and contrast the characteristics of different types of nucleic acid-based diagnostics.