PCR stands for Polymerase Chain Reactions. It is a test used to detect a specific type of genetic material, especially viruses. PCR is used to diagnose infectious diseases at early stages. It is also used for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 the virus that causes Covid-19.
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The polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technique was developed by an American Biochemist Dr. Kary Mullis in 1983. Many people have become familiar with the PCR test due to Covid-19
Characteristics of PCR:
- Before the development of PCR, scientists used to take a large amount of DNA for molecular and genetic testing.
- PCR technique allowed scientists to test for the presence of virus from a small amount of DNA.
- It can duplicate the DNA and replicate millions of copies from a small amount of DNA.
- It is a quick and accurate way of detecting the presence of a virus using small segments of the genetic material.
Uses of PCR:
- Other than diagnosing Covid-19, PCR has many medical uses.
- It is used for the detection of a small number of cancer cells.
- PCR is also used to detect the incurable disease called HIV.
- This technique was used to diagnose the Ebola virus.
- It is also used for the detection of hepatitis C and tuberculosis in the body.
Working of PCR:
The PCR test requires three steps to conduct. These three steps are discussed below:
- Collection Of Samples: The first step is to collect the testing samples through your nose. It is carried with the help of a swab. A swab is a long, flexible tube, that goes inside the nose and collects the samples from the nostrils or nasal cavity.
- Extraction Of Samples: After the test samples are extracted from the nose. It is then sent to a laboratory where they heat up the samples. This allows the genetic samples (pathogens) to be separated from the rest of the sample material.
- The PCR Technique: In this step, a PCR machine called thermal cycle and enzymes are used. A series of heating and cooling cycles are carried out that increases the amount of genetic material obtained from the test tube. After the amplification of genetic materials, a chemical is released in the test tube that produces a fluorescent light if the SARS-COV-2 virus is detected.
Types of PCR Test:
On the basis of the type of sample obtained from the body. PCR tests are divided into the following types.
- Nasal Swab: The type of PCR that involves samples through swabbing from the back of the nose and throat.
- Nasal mid Swab: This type of test involves samples obtained from deep inside the nostril.
- Saliva: This involves samples by spitting in the test tube.
- Blood: The type of PCR in which blood samples are taken from the vein.
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