It’s Better With Meta
Could metagenomic testing improve infectious disease diagnosis across the board?
Michael Schubert | | Quick Read
When faced with an infectious disease, what’s your first step? Perhaps a culture, an immunoassay, or a PCR-based test? Unfortunately, conventional infectious disease diagnostics all have drawbacks – and if they take days to return results or only identify a few types of pathogen, what happens when they fail to reveal the culprit?
To address this issue, researchers have developed a new test that yields results in as little as six hours (1). “We can detect any infection from any body fluid, without special handling or processing,” said senior author Charles Chiu (2). How? By combining next-generation sequencing with analytical software that compares sample sequences to databases of pathogen genomes. “We think this one metagenomic test can potentially replace all PCR-based DNA tests,” Chiu optimistically concluded (2).
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- W Gu et al., Nat Med, [Online ahead of print] (2020). PMID: 33169017.
- J Norris (2020). Available at: bit.ly/38Mxihf.