Recent advances in diagnostic testing for viral infections
Nottingham Trent University, Clifton campus NG11 8NS, Nottingham, UK
22 Feb 2016
30 Nov 2016
viral infections, laboratory testing, immunoassay, polymerase chain reaction, next-generation sequencing, mass spectrometry
Viral infectious diseases represent an important portion of global public health concerns with thousands of deaths annually. From serious pandemics and highly contagious infections to common influenza episodes, clinical prognosis often relies on early detection of the infectious agent. Thus, effective identification of viral pathogens is needed to help prevent transmission, set up appropriate therapy, monitor response to treatment and lead to efficient disease management and control. The aim of this review is to outline some of the recent technological advances in viral identification, including polymerase chain reaction, mass spectrometry and next-generation sequencing, and how they are applied in the diagnosis and management of viral infections. These powerful tools combine rapidity and efficiency in detecting viral pathogens and have revolutionized the field of clinical diagnostics. However, a number of drawbacks such as high cost have limited their use in many laboratories, particularly in resource-limited settings. On the contrary, the advent of microfluidic technology has attracted increasing interest from biomedical research groups, and could represent a challenging alternative to diagnose viral infections at lower cost.