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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Real-Time PCR. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Laboratory Applications

There are numerous applications for real-time PCR in the laboratory for both diagnostic and research purposes.

Diagnostic applications

Real-time PCR can rapidly detect nucleic acids that are diagnostic of infectious diseases, cancers, and genetic abnormalities. Real-time PCR has allowed for viral quantitation of infectious and newly emerging diseases such as influenza A H1N1 subtype. In malignant diseases, real-time PCR can be performed directly on genomic DNA to detect translocation-specific malignant cells. For RNA samples, real-time PCR has become extremely important for the detection and monitoring of HIV, hepatitis C and CMV. Real-time PCR can also be used for array verification and drug therapy efficacy.

Research applications

In a research setting, real-time PCR is primarily used to measure gene transcription. The technology is commonly used to determine genetic expression of a particular gene over time in response to different pharmacologic agents or environmental conditions and can also be used to compare gene expression in exposed and unexposed individuals. The use of real-time PCR in this manner can help researchers find and detect diagnostic or prognostic indicators to increase the understanding of disease pathogenesis.