Technology has come a long way in diagnostic testing and the identification of pathogens. Early detection has been made possible with a variety of laboratory techniques. Virology has been the biggest beneficiary, as viruses are among the most challenging organisms to isolate and culture. As the name suggests, these tests identify specific molecules, such as nucleic acids and biomarkers. Although they are technique sensitive, they offer a high degree of accuracy.

Basis of molecular testing

In simple terms, these tests are done to identify genetic material in a sample specimen. Also referred to as nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs), they amplify DNA, RNA or any other antigenic molecule in order to identify the micro-organism and quantify it. As a result of amplification, even small amounts of virus in the sample can be detected, making it highly accurate. Apart from identifying genetic material, they can also be analyzed for gene mutations, which help us understand the disease pathology.

Types of molecular tests

Broadly, they are divided into genome testing and identifying genetic markers. The genome refers to the genetic makeup of an organism. Genome sequencing and testing involve analyzing the genetic material, in whole or part, to identify specific genes or changes in any gene. This is very useful in determining familial associations or hereditary diseases. Preconception testing has increased in recent times to detect potentially harmful conditions at a very early stage. The other type of testing involves identifying specific portions or signal molecules that correlate with a specific condition. The most common example of such testing is the polymerase chain reaction done for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 disease.

Why do we need molecular testing?

As seen before, molecular testing has helped us understand the pathogenesis of many conditions about which we were previously clueless. Despite being technique sensitive, their high degree of accuracy makes them very resourceful and trustworthy. They are useful to assess the risk of various diseases prior to conception so that people can make informed decisions. Molecular testing can also predict the response of an individual to certain medications. They are also routinely used to diagnose certain types of cancer at an early stage in a high-risk population. This gives them a good chance of a complete cure or remission.

Covid-19 testing

Since the onset of the pandemic, molecular testing has become very commonplace and necessary. It is, by far, the most accurate test or method to detect and diagnose the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The two most commonly used techniques for detecting Covid-19 are antigen tests and molecular tests, while antigen tests identify the proteins contained in or expressed by the virus. They are easier to detect and give a rapid result. Molecular tests, on the other hand, detect viral genetic material and multiply it to confirm the presence of the virus and its numbers. By using this method, the virus can be detected before symptoms develop. A polymerase chain reaction is the most common molecular test done to detect Covid-19. Other tests include real-time reverse transcriptase PCR, loop-mediated isothermal amplification, and recombinase polymerase amplification.

At Clarity Labs, our commitment to scientific leadership provides clients with access to industry-leading expertise and the latest developments in medical diagnostic technology. We are a state-of-the-art medical testing laboratory located in Warren, New Jersey, that provides testing services for the screening and diagnosis of various diseases and health conditions. We are certified and accredited under the federal government’s Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certified and (CAP) accredited. We offer round-the-clock care and customized programs including specialized sample pickup and delivery times. Get in touch with us today!