Sensitive, microliter PCR with consensus degenerate primers for Epstein Barr virus amplification
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Sensitive, microliter PCR with consensus degenerate primers for Epstein Barr virus amplification

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  • English

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    • Alternative Title:
      Biomed Microdevices
    • Description:
      Sensitive identification of the etiology of viral diseases is key to implementing appropriate prevention and treatment. The gold standard for virus identification is the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a technique that allows for highly specific and sensitive detection of pathogens by exponentially amplifying a specific region of DNA from as little as a single copy through thermocycling a biochemical cocktail. Today, molecular biology laboratories use commercial instruments that operate in 0.5-2 h/analysis using reaction volumes of 5-50 μL contained within polymer tubes or chambers. Towards reducing this volume and maintaining performance, we present a semi-quantitative, systematic experimental study of how PCR yield is affected by tube/chamber substrate, surface-area-to-volume ratio (SA:V), and passivation methods. We perform PCR experiments using traditional PCR tubes as well as using disposable polymer microchips with 1 μL reaction volumes thermocycled using water baths. We report the first oil encapsulation microfluidic PCR method without fluid flow and its application to the first microfluidic amplification of Epstein Barr virus using consensus degenerate primers, a powerful and broad PCR method to screen for both known and novel members of a viral family. The limit of detection is measured as 140 starting copies of DNA from a starting concentration of 3 × 10(5) copies/mL, regarded as an accepted sensitivity threshold for diagnostic purposes, and reaction specificity was improved as compared to conventional methods. Also notable, these experiments were conducted with conventional reagent concentrations, rather than commonly spiked enzyme and/or template mixtures. This experimental study of the effects of substrate, SA:V, and passivation, together with sensitive and specific microfluidic PCR with consensus degenerate primers represent advances towards lower cost and higher throughput pathogen screening.
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