Laboratory methods for detection and identification of biological pathogens

Erez Bar-Haim, Adi Aran, Nir Marcus, Arseny Finkelstein, Yoram Amsalem, Yoav Yehezkeli

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Laboratory detection and recognition methods of infectious diseases agents have developed markedly in recent years, following the proliferation of nucleic acid and immuno-based detection technologies. The present review summarizes the state of the art in current biorecognition methods: antigenic identification, genetic identification such as PCR, RFLP and FISH, protemics and mass spectrometry. For each method we have specified the technology and qualification required, time to result, specifity and sensitivity, while emphasizing the advantages and disadvantages of using each method for the detection of a given pathogen. Nucleic acid-based detection is more specific and sensitive than immunological-based detection, while the latter is simpler and expected to further development with the improvements in the affinity, specifity and mass production of new immunoglobulins. Protein-based detection methods have an advantage comparing to nucleic acid identification: the presence of the protein approves that the tested gene is functional. Mass spectrometry enables simultaneous detections of multiple proteins and thus holds a promise for new technical developments with a vast array of applications. Most physicians do not practice biodetection technologies in their every day routine, but encounter those terms in their clinical and academic work. The review aims to display basic information in this field in order to enable a common language with basic science specialists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-346
Number of pages6
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


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