In clinical laboratories today, DNA and RNA are isolated and extracted through both manual and automated techniques.
Manual extraction requires many different manipulations to the sample, which increases the risk of contamination. It is also considered high complexity testing so not every laboratory professional is capable of performing this process. Another downside to manual extraction is that the process is extremely time consuming and requires the undivided attention of the technician performing the procedure.
Automated extraction has many benefits over the traditional manual methods. The most important benefit is the consistency of the isolated nucleic acid. Manipulation of the sample and reagents is reduced, which dramatically decreases the chance of cross-contamination. Also, automated extraction instruments are considered moderate complexity so that testing can be performed by a greater number of laboratory professionals.
Though automated extraction instruments have many benefits over manual methods, the cost per test is high and generally requires a high throughput of samples in order to justify the expense.