Advances in multiparametric molecular diagnostics technologies for respiratory tract infections

Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2013 May;19(3):298-304. doi: 10.1097/MCP.0b013e32835f1b32.


Purpose of review: Respiratory tract infections (RTIs) are caused by a variety of bacterial, viral, fungal, and other pathogens and cause millions of deaths each year. Current standard microbiological culture-based tests are laborious and time consuming. Thus, patients are initially treated empirically, leading to inappropriate use of antibiotics. The purpose of this article is to provide clinicians and scientists with a review of recently available commercial multiparametric molecular diagnostics tests for the detection of RTIs so that they can be considered for use instead of, or in combination with, traditional culture techniques.

Recent findings: Several technologies have become commercially available for the multiparametric molecular detection of RTIs in the past decade including tests based on PCR-array, PCR-mass spectrometry, and multiplex qPCR technologies. The majority of these tests are for the detection of viruses, but more recently companies have begun to focus on detection of viruses, bacteria, and associated drug resistances in a single product to maximize the information provided to the clinician by a single test.

Summary: We describe the recent advances in commercial multiparametric molecular diagnostics technologies for the diagnosis of RTIs. Combining the specific and sensitive molecular detection of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and drug resistances is key if molecular methods are to replace traditional culture. The reliability of the molecular drug-resistance markers chosen, the need for the quantitative detection of some organisms, and throughput are also important considerations for new technology developers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Microarray Analysis
  • Pathology, Molecular / instrumentation
  • Pathology, Molecular / methods*
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / microbiology*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Viruses / genetics
  • Viruses / isolation & purification*