Molecular Infectious Tests

Overview

Over the past decade, there has been an explosion in the use of molecular tests to diagnose and manage infectious diseases. HIV is a prime example of an infectious agent whose diagnosis at least in the acute stage, susceptibility testing, and management are all dependent on molecular diagnostics. The ability to accurately diagnose a plethora of respiratory pathogens quickly, simply, and relatively inexpensively compared to traditional methods is becoming a reality. Direct sequencing and microarray analysis holds great promise for directly detecting a wide variety of organisms from clinical specimens. The question is where this testing should be done in the clinical laboratory. There are at least four models that have emerged:

  • Molecular infectious disease testing as an arm of the clinical microbiology laboratory
  • Molecular infectious disease testing done in a central molecular pathology laboratory under the leadership of a clinical microbiologist
  • Molecular infectious disease testing done in a central molecular pathology laboratory under the leadership of an individual whose primary interest is in another area of molecular pathology
  • pMolecular infectious disease testing sent to a reference laboratory and not done on site or within the institution's health care system.

We have asked three individuals who have thought about this very complex issue to share their rationale for supporting one of these models. Frederick Nolte is the Director of Clinical Laboratories and Director of Molecular Pathology at the Medical University of South Carolina, is active in and held several positions of responsibility in AMP (Association of Molecular Pathology) and is Chair of the CLSI's Area Committee for Molecular Methods, Alex McAdam is the Director of the Infectious Diseases Diagnostic Division at Children's Hospital Boston and an editor of this journal, and his colleague, Nima Mosammaparast, is the Assistant Director of the Infectious Diseases Diagnostic Laboratory at Children's Hospital Boston.

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