The detection and identification of microorganisms in patient specimens is the role of a microbiology laboratory. PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing can now provide rapid, sensitive and specific detection of a wide variety of pathogens sometimes found in or causing difficult-to-diagnose conditions.
PCR is a simple and powerful method of copying genetic material (DNA). The technique allows scientists to replicate a piece of DNA a million times or more in just 2-3 hours. These millions of exact copies can then be easily analyzed. In contrast, other methods that require larger samples for analysis may either be unable to detect or identify the target or require a more lengthy time period to produce sufficient material.
A small sample of cells is taken from a patient, usually in the form of blood. The DNA-containing white blood cells are removed and broken to release their DNA. High temperature is then used to separate the double-stranded DNA molecules into single strands, and short synthetic pieces of DNA are bound to the target region. The same naturally-occurring enzyme responsible for making replicas of DNA in normally dividing cells is then used to create millions of copies of the desired target DNA in the laboratory.
PCR can be used to identify the presence of seemingly hidden disease-causing viruses and/or bacteria and is capable of differentiating even closely-related organisms. It can be used to identify genetic markers that are associated with susceptibility or resistance to certain diseases, including diseases as diverse as diabetes, arthritis, cancer or allergies.
A Cardiovascular Disease Panel (Blood or Tissue Biopsy) can test for the presence of Chlamydia pneumoniae, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Helicobacter pylori, Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Human Herpes Virus 6 (HHV-6).
A Fatigue Illnesses and Pain Panel (Blood) can test for the presence of Mycoplasma fermentans, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Mycoplasma penetrans, Chlamydia pneumoniae, Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Human Herpes Virus (HHV-6).
A Lyme/Tick Panel (Blood or Tissue Biopsy) can test for the presence of Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme Disease), Babesia microti (Babesiosis), Ehrlichia chaffeensis (Ehrlichiosis) and Rickettsia rickettsii (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever).
A Herpes/Papilloma Virus Panel (Blood and Swab) can test for the presence of Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), Cytomegalorvirus (CMV), Herpes simplex Viruses (HSV 1 and HSV 2 combined), Human herpes Virus-6 (HHV-6) and Human papilloma Viruses (HPV 6, 11, 16, 18).
A Herpes/Papilloma Virus Panel (Blood and Swab) can test for the presence of Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), Cytomegalorvirus (CMV), Herpes Simplex Viruses (HSV 1 and HSV 2 combined), Human Herpes Virus-6 (HHV-6) and Human Papilloma Viruses (HPV 6, 11, 16, 18).
When unknown organisms may be contributing to chronic problems, a Uro-Genital Disease Panel (Swab or Urine) can test for the presence of Ureaplasma urealyticum, Mycoplasma genus screen, Herpes simplex viruses (HSV 1 and HSV 2 combined), Chlamydia trachomatis, Human papilloma virus – types 6/11, Human papilloma virus – types 16/18 and Cytomegalovirus (CMV).