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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

New Technique to Allow Rapid Diagnosis of Diseases


By late next year, doctors may be able to quickly detect viral, bacterial, and genetic diseases using a new "gene-amplification" technology. Like the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) developed by Cetus Corp. of Berkeley, Calif., the new "Q-beta replicase" technology involves taking infinitesimal bits of genetic material from cells, viruses, or bacteria, and chemically copying them until enough is available to make a diagnosis. Both techniques take less than an hour. Each one is expected to be used commercially to detect HIV genes. Current tests detect antibodies to the virus, which often do not show up until months after infection. Gene-Trak Systems of Framingham, Mass., a joint venture of Integrated Genetics Inc. and Amoco Corp., has exclusive rights to the new technology. While the PCR method rapidly duplicates DNA, the new method uses an enzyme called Q-beta replicase to trigger RNA replication. A gene spliced into the RNA acts as a probe to seek out a matching gene. To detect HIV, a gene from the virus would be spliced into the RNA, and would bind to the matching gene on any HIV. Fred R. Kramer, PAUl M. Lizardi, and their colleagues, then at Columbia University, discovered the unique enzyme.


Copyright © 1988 -CDC Prevention News Update, Publisher. All rights reserved to Information, Inc., Bethesda, MD. The CDC National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention provides the following information as a public service only. Providing synopses of key scientific articles and lay media reports on HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted diseases and tuberculosis does not constitute CDC endorsement. This daily update also includes information from CDC and other government agencies, such as background on Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) articles, fact sheets, press releases and announcements. Reproduction of this text is encouraged; however, copies may not be sold, and the CDC HIV/STD/TB Prevention News Update should be cited as the source of the information. Contact the sources of the articles abstracted below for full texts of the articles.

Information in this article was accurate in October 18, 1988. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.