Lauren M Wainman, Shivaprasad H Sathyanarayana, Joel A Lefferts

Applications of Digital Polymerase Chain Reaction (dPCR) in Molecular and Clinical Testing

  • General Medicine

Abstract Background Digital polymerase chain reaction (dPCR) is an accurate and sensitive molecular method that can be used in clinical diagnostic, prognostic, and predictive tests. The key component of the dPCR method is the partitioning of a single reaction into many thousands of droplets, nanochannels or other nano- or picoliter-sized reactions. This results in high enough sensitivity to detect rare nucleic acid targets and provides an absolute quantification of target sequences or alleles compared to other PCR-based methods. Content An increasing number of dPCR platforms have been introduced commercially in recent years and more are being developed. These platforms differ in the method of partitioning, degree of automation, and multiplexing capabilities but all can be used in similar ways for sensitive and highly accurate quantification of a variety of nucleic acid targets. Currently, clinical applications of dPCR include oncology, microbiology and infectious disease, genetics, and prenatal/newborn screening. Commercially available tests for clinical applications are being developed for variants with diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic significance in specific disease types. Summary The power of dPCR technology relies on the partitioning of the reactions and results in increased sensitivity and accuracy compared to qPCR. More recently, the sensitivity of dPCR has been applied to the detection of known variants in cell-free DNA and circulating tumor DNA. Future clinical applications of dPCR include liquid biopsy, treatment resistance detection, screening for minimal residual disease, and monitoring allograft engraftment in transplanted patients.

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