Molecular diagnostics are increasingly used to guide patient management, from diagnosis to treatment, particularly in the fields of cancer, infectious disease, and congenital abnormalities. The increased demand for genetic and genomic information has led to the rapid expansion of molecular techniques within clinical laboratories.
In cases where it is difficult to detect infecting micro-organisms by other methods, or where these are too slow or are not sensitive or specific enough, it is possible to detect the genetic material, DNA or RNA, from the organism using molecular detection techniques. The Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory is part of the Microbiology and Virology Service based at the Freeman Hospital. A comprehensive diagnostic and public health service is provided which includes clinical and technical support to NuTH, regional and national users offering information and advice on relevant sample type, test request, results and reports.
The laboratory provides diagnostic solutions for respiratory viruses including Influenza A/B and RSV, viral load testing of blood-borne viruses, HIV, Hepatitis B and C, genotyping of Hepatitis C, the detection of viruses associated with CNS infection including HSV-1 and HSV-2, VZV, enterovirus and parechovirus, and those important to transplant patient groups – CMV, EBV and adenovirus. Other molecular diagnostic assays are also available, targeting Pneumocystis, enteric viruses such as norovirus, rotavirus, adenovirus, astrovirus and sapovirus, chlamydia and gonorrhoea, measles and Bordetella pertussis.
The laboratory continues to look to the future, to improve diagnostic capabilities and increase our repertoire of tests.