Accurate molecular testing has been identified as an important tool in managing infectious disease outbreaks that may lead to epidemics or pandemics. PCR (typically using real-time qPCR platforms) is a popular method for identifying the presence of pathogen genomic material to monitor infectious diseases as it is highly dynamic, quick to deploy and thus responds to a rapidly spreading infectious disease outbreak. The analytical performance of such PCR-based methods needs to be characterized and this is typically conducted using control/reference materials. These materials come in a variety of formats and offer a valuable route to providing testing confidence. However, they must be shared across a nation or internationally for broader standardization/harmonization. Digital PCR (dPCR) offers a more reproducible alternative to qPCR that can also be deployed as a molecular testing solution. However, this format is less widely available. This presentation will explore dPCR as a molecular tool as well as outline other potentially vital roles of this method in outbreak response by providing a reference measurement procedure that can complement material standards used to control rapidly deployed qPCR assays.

About the speaker
Dr. Jim Huggett, Science Fellow, National Measurement Laboratory, UK
Visiting Professor, University of Surrey
Dr. Huggett is a molecular biologist interested in measurement accuracy when conducting genetic and genomic methods. In the last 12 years, he has led a team of scientists researching at the National Measurement Laboratory, the UK’s national measurement institute for Chemical and Bioanalysis. Also, a senior lecturer in analytical microbiology at the University of Surrey, Dr. Huggett, is increasingly recognized globally for his interest in bio metrology applied in support of molecular testing. He is the chair of the CCQM Nucleic Acid Working Group and has authored over 90 publications on a variety of aspects of molecular diagnostics and measurement research.
Date of recording:Thursday, 17 November 2022
Duration:60 minutes
Infectious Disease
Digital PCR