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Molecular diagnostics of infectious diseases

Muldrew, Kenneth L

doi: 10.1097/MOP.0b013e328320d87e
Infectious diseases and immunization: Edited by Robert S. Baltimore and Hal B. Jenson

Purpose of review The purpose of this article is to review the molecular methods commonly used in medical microbiology as well as to update the clinician as to newer molecular technologies that show promise in the identification of microorganisms as well as evaluation of the presence of virulence factors and antibiotic resistance determinants.

Recent findings Numerous molecular assays have been developed recently using a variety of technologies. Direct hybridization techniques have allowed analysis of blood culture bottles for organisms such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Target amplification methods allow postamplification analysis using a variety of technologies depending on the clinical needs for the assay. Postamplification analysis includes methods such as Sanger sequencing, pyrosequencing, reverse hybridization, and Luminex analysis, which are becoming more widely utilized. In the future, whole genome sequencing, mass spectrometry, and microarray analysis may provide a wealth of information that can be used to specifically tailor the treatment of infectious diseases.

Summary The implications of current trends in molecular infectious diseases are moving towards high-throughput, simple, array-type technologies that will provide a wealth of data regarding types of organisms present in a sample and the virulence factors/resistance determinants that influence the severity of disease. As a result of these developments, infectious diseases will be more accurately and effectively treated.

Section of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University, School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA

Correspondence to Kenneth L. Muldrew, MD, MPH, DABP-MM, FCAP, Clinical Microbiology Laboratory, CB-643, Yale-New Haven Hospital, 20 York Street, New Haven, CT 06510, USA Tel: +1 615 429 6825; e-mail:

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.