MLO: Scales Tip Toward Molecular Tests as Microbiology Loses Favor in Clinical Labs
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MLO: Scales Tip Toward Molecular Tests as Microbiology Loses Favor in Clinical Labs

May 31st, 2018 / Christine Valle

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MLO: Scales Tip Toward Molecular Tests as Microbiology Loses Favor in Clinical Labs

Many Luminex users are quite familiar with the debate about molecular versus microbiology testing, having already made the leap to our molecular assays from conventional microbiology assays such as cultures. For the latest details on this debate, don’t miss a new article in Medical Laboratory Observer from our own Sherry Dunbar. (Bonus: it’s part of a continuing education series that offers CEU credits!)

Diagnostic and health trends increase demand for molecular testing” explores the increasing shift from standard microbiology workflows to molecular diagnostics for infectious disease testing. “Microbiology will always play a key role in the clinical lab, but molecular diagnostics has been making a cogent case that it will be a staple of laboratory science as well, and in some cases will supplant the older technologies,” Dunbar writes.

The Need for Speed

One of the biggest reasons for this is the need for speed. Molecular assays enable rapid testing in a way that laborious microbiology procedures rarely can, often delivering results in a couple of hours or even faster. Additionally, the rise of antibiotic resistance makes it even more important to generate results quickly: rapid answers allow healthcare teams to avoid prescribing unnecessary antibiotics, and to select the most effective treatment for each specific case, even when a pathogen might have antibiotic resistance markers. As Dunbar puts it, “Microbiology methods typically require several days to generate [resistance marker data], but antimicrobial stewardship programs striving to get patients on targeted treatments cannot afford this kind of delay. Molecular tests now allow clinical lab teams to deliver this data within the first day.”

Specific, Sensitive, and Accurate

Other reasons for increased adoption of molecular tests include a reduction in the number of working laboratorians with the needed skill sets to conduct microbiology tests; today’s training tends to skip over these skills, leading to a workforce more comfortable with molecular assays. Also, the availability of more data about molecular assays has helped lab experts recognize the superior performance of these tests, which are often more specific, sensitive, and accurate than their microbiology cousins.

“With rapid results, ease of use, and higher accuracy,” Dunbar writes, “molecular diagnostics are replacing microbiology options for many types of infectious diseases—and in some cases introducing entirely new tests for pathogens that could never be diagnosed through microbiology.”

Click here to read the complete article.


Targeted and Syndromic Molecular Diagnostics