The Rise of Metagenomics in Infectious Disease
Metagenomic sequencing is poised to revolutionize clinical microbiology
Todd Dickinson | | Opinion
Since the mid-1990s, clinical microbiology laboratories have harnessed the power of the genome to develop faster, more sensitive diagnostic tests. Today, molecular tests such as polymerase chain reactions are a routine and valuable part of most labs. Although molecular tests offer significant advantages over more antiquated techniques such as culture, they are still limited to a fairly narrow window of microbes that can be detected in a single sample. This means that labs may need to perform multiple blood draws from a single patient to sequentially test using several assays. And to decide what test to use and when, laboratorians must also piece together different kinds of information, including the patient’s clinical history, differential diagnosis, and local epidemiology. All of these steps can add cost, delay results, and place an unnecessary burden on the patient.
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