MOLECULAR biological methods have become increasingly applicable to the diagnosis of infectious disease. To become widely used, the methods need to be easy, safe, sensitive, reproducible and eventually automated to facilitate the evaluation of large numbers of samples. Antigens (generally proteins) or nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) can be detected in samples to provide evidence of infection with specific organisms. These types of approach are considered in this article. Alternatively, the organism may be cultured or products of the immune system that have been produced in response to infection, such as antibodies or cytokines, may be detected.
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