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The Case for Multiplex PCR

Yale Medicine noted that the US was facing, as of Fall 2022, a potential tripledemic.  This entails the combination of RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), Covid-19 and the flu.  The fear of the tripledemic was that it would overwhelm the healthcare system with all three colluding to peak at the very same time. 

The fear was based on the fact that having been sheltered for a number of years because of Covid (masking + other precautions), our immune systems would be particularly vulnerable as “normality” settled in.

Whilst there have been an extraordinary amount of cases, the expected threat never quite came to fruition.  In spite of that, it did highlight the need to be able to test for multiple infections at the same time through the use of multiplex PCR.

Why Test for Multiple Viruses at the Same Time?

Why is it crucial then that we do test for multiple respiratory viruses at the same time?  

Being able to test for all at the same time would allow you to know whether you have contracted multiple viruses at the same time.  A study at the University of Glasgow noted that 30% of infections may have more than 1 virus.  This in turn can impact the severity of your infection.  

Moreover, hygiene regimes as well as treatment options may also be dissimilar.  How you treat someone with an influenza infection versus a Covid-19 infection for example, is different.    

Multiplex PCR Advantages

Prior to considering the numerous advantages of multiplex PCR, it is necessary to note what it actually entails.  

Chang Hui Chen noted that in multiplex PCR two or more primer sets designed for amplification of different targets are included in the same PCR reaction. Using this technique, more than one target sequence in a clinical specimen can be amplified in a single tube.

There are multiple advantages in using multiplex PCR.  Some of these include:

  • Time & cost savings can be realized (less testing supplies used)
  • Fewer errors 
  • More information with less sample
  • Higher throughput
  • False negatives are also often revealed in multiplex assays that may not show up in a single PCR

Customized Solutions

For more information in regard to solutions we can offer for Multiplex PCR, please get in touch with us.  Not only can we identify up to 4 targets in one well, but we are also able to customize according to your lab’s requirements.

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