Polymerase Chain Reaction is a patented, in vitro technique that imitates natures ability to replicate DNA by generating multiple copies of a specific nucleotide sequence from a target organism. Through DNA amplification, PCR provides a mechanism for detecting extremely low concentrations of target organisms with high specificity. Among the many important applications for PCR are archaeology, forensics, paternity testing, genetics biologic research and clinical diagnosis. HIV and HCV viral load testing are among the most clinically significant applications of PCR currently available.
AMPLICOR« PCR Tests can provide the same day test results for organisms that originally had taken up to eight weeks to detect using other techniques. In clinical diagnostics, scientists can take a specimen of genetic material weighing only one-trillionth of a gram, copy its genetic sequence over and over, and generate a test sample sufficient to detect the presence or absence of a specific virus, bacterium or mutated genetic material. This process of amplification enables laboratory personnel to detect the presence and, in some cases, the quantity of pathogens.
The technology, conceived by Kary Mullis and developed by a team of scientists from Cetus Corporation, was first published in 1985 in Science by R. Saiki, S Scharf, F Faloona, K Mullis, C Horn, H Erlich and N Arnheim, (Enzymatic amplification of ▀-globin genomic sequences and restriction site analyses of sickle cell anemia, Science 230:1350-1354, 1985) and has been hailed as one of the most powerful tools of molecular biology. For this revolutionary discovery, Dr Mullis shared the 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
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