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Molecular Multiplex Panels Quickly Supplanting Conventional Pathogen Detection Methods, Finds Report

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 28 Sep 2023
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Image: AMP has published a report on the use of multiplex panels for diagnosing infectious diseases (Photo courtesy of AMP)
Image: AMP has published a report on the use of multiplex panels for diagnosing infectious diseases (Photo courtesy of AMP)

Multiplex molecular panels are increasingly being adopted in clinical labs for detecting a variety of microbial pathogens in different settings. While a lot of data exists on their effectiveness in identifying respiratory pathogens, there is scant information available for other types. Now, the latest review provides valuable insights into the use of multiplex PCR panels for detecting pathogens in the gastrointestinal system, central nervous system, lower respiratory tract, and joint specimens. The review not only explores new methods for detecting pathogens in alternative types of specimens but also outlines challenges related to the implementation of new tests and the costs involved.

The Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP, Rockville, MD, USA) has published a review of the benefits and challenges in utilizing multiplex PCR panels for detecting microbial pathogens from gastrointestinal, central nervous system, lower respiratory tract, and joint specimens. The manuscript, “Exploring the Utility of Multiplex Infectious Disease Panel Testing for Diagnosis of Infection in Different Body Sites: A Joint Report of the Association for Molecular Pathology, American Society for Microbiology (ASM), Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), and Pan American Society for Clinical Virology (PASCV),” has been released online ahead of publication in The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics.

Despite the apparent benefits and growing adoption of PCR multiplex panels, several questions still remain unanswered. For example, how exhaustive should the panel be to realize the advantages previously described? Is it more useful to have extensive multi-target panels, or is a specific subset of organisms sufficient for routine testing? Additionally, what is contributing to better patient outcomes—quicker test results or a more systematic approach that balances costs and patient benefits? These issues require more investigation as our understanding of the clinical utility of PCR multiplex panels continues to develop.

“Molecular multiplex panels are quickly supplanting conventional pathogen detection methods,” said Michael A. Lewinski, PhD, Chair of the AMP Infectious Diseases Multiplex Working Group. “This new report offers a detailed snapshot of the various clinical and analytical benefits and challenges associated with these panels for diagnosis of infection in different body sites. We also raise a few questions that warrant further study.”

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