Diagnosing emerging and reemerging infectious diseases: The pivotal role of the pathologist

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19 Scopus citations


Context.-Molecular diagnostics continues to evolve very rapidly, and its impact in the diagnosis of infectious diseases is undeniable. Molecular tools have played a pivotal role in discovering and characterizing several emerging infectious agents and have now become the gold standard for the diagnosis of infectious diseases caused by fastidious or uncultivable agents. Multiple challenges still remain for the widespread use of cost-effective, validated, and commercially available molecular tools. Automated instruments capable of sample processing and multiplex nucleic acid amplification and postamplification analysis have already been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the clinical setting. Nanobiotechnology is beginning to impact laboratory diagnostics in the clinical setting. Objective.-To address current nucleic acid techniques used in the clinical laboratory for diagnosis of infectious diseases. FDA-approved tests are listed, as well as molecular techniques (amplification and postamplification analysis). A comprehensive list of emerging pathogens during the last 4 decades is also presented. Biosurveillance systems are discussed in the context of molecular tools. The rapidly evolving field of nanobiotechnology is briefly addressed. Data Sources.-Original publications, major reviews, and book chapters were used to present a comprehensive, yet short, review of molecular diagnostics in infectious diseases. Conclusions.-We will continue to witness an exponential growth of molecular techniques used for the initial diagnosis of infectious diseases. Molecular tools will also continue to have an impact on disease prognosis and response to therapeutic interventions. Automation, multiplexing, and miniaturization will continue to be driving forces in the development of new instruments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-91
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


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