The principle and practice of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has had a major impact on medical research. This is a powerful method but it does have its limitations, especially for clinical diagnostic work. We describe some improvements of hepatitis C virus (HCV) amplification such as simplification of specimen preparation, elimination of false negative reactions influenced by point mutations, and fluorimetric detection. The aim of the method is to make the procedure as easy and as inexpensive as possible for routine laboratories and for blood screening. After rapid chemical denaturation of the clinical specimen with guanidine thiocyanate and simultaneous hybridization of biotinylated primers to template HCV RNA, the product was fixed to streptavidin-coated magnetic beads and potential inhibitors were removed in easy washing steps. To eliminate the influence of point mutations within the primer binding sites, primer sets with different lengths at their 3′-end were developed for capture, reverse transcription, and amplification of genomic fragments by PCR. Positive results were identified by fluorescence staining. The low cost of the method allows the quantitation of templates by testing of dilution series as is common in microbiological laboratories.
Journal of Virological Methods – Elsevier
Published: May 1, 1996
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