More than 1 million sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are acquired every single day across the globe.1 While this number raises a cause for concern, you should note that diseases like chlamydia and gonorrhoea are completely curable if you get tested at regular intervals and practice the necessary safety precautions during intercourse.1

The PCR test proves to be a good diagnostic tool for STIs because of its high sensitivity and specificity.2 Let’s dive deeper and understand the working principle and benefits of PCR tests in detail.

What Is A PCR Test?

A PCR Test is one of the most common diagnostic tests for STIs. The test works on the detection and amplification principle of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology. It can make millions or even billions of copies of a specific DNA fragment in the sample.3 This technique can detect the presence or absence of a gene which further leads to the identification of disease-causing microbes in case you have an STI.4

“LifeCell’s Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea Test - Male and Female” uses the real-time PCR technique to analyse the amount of target DNA after every amplification cycle. RT-PCR performed using the Taqman Probe chemistry provides highly precise results in a swift manner. This technology is an upgrade from the conventional PCR method that quantified the results once all the amplification cycles were completed.

Working Principle Of A PCR Test5

The mechanism of the PCR test is relatively straightforward. The procedure is completely automated and controlled by a device called the thermocycler. The machine facilitates DNA multiplication through a cyclic synthesis process by regulating the temperature at every step. The benefit of PCR tests is that you can repeat the cycle around 20 to 30 times in a matter of hours and obtain over a million exact copies of the DNA, resulting in quicker reports. There are 3 distinct steps to a PCR cycle:

  1. The sample is heated until it reaches around 95°C.6 This separates the two strands of DNA and is called the denaturation step.
  2. After the separation, DNA primers specific to STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhoea are added at 50-56°C in a step called annealing.6
  3. During the last stage of the cycle, Taq polymerase (a special enzyme that enables the binding of DNA strands) is added at 72°C.6 In this step, two strands of the target infectious DNA are synthesised. The amplified sample is later scanned to check for chlamydia or gonorrhoea infection.

Benefits Of PCR Tests For Detecting STIs

Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea can cause a lot of complications like Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (infection in a woman’s reproductive organs like the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries)7 or even infertility if left untreated.8 However, in order for patients to receive prompt diagnoses and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, accurate and affordable diagnostics have become indispensable.9 Here’s where a PCR test steps in as an ideal way to check if you are affected by STIs like chlamydia or gonorrhoea.

1. High Accuracy

PCR tests have incredibly high accuracy and specificity.10 In simple terms, having a high specificity means that the test is less likely to show false positives.11

2. High Sensitivity

Another benefit of PCR tests is that they are also highly sensitive.10 The amplification mechanism results in the detection of chlamydia or gonorrhoea infection even if there are trace amounts in the sample.

3. Fast Results

You can get quick results through a PCR test.9 With Lifecell’s at-home chlamydia and gonorrhoea test you can get your test report within 2 days once the sample reaches the lab. This gives you a chance to seek the optimal treatment in the relevant time frame before the infection gets severe.

4. Non-invasive Sample Collection

A convenient sample collection process is one of the most noteworthy benefits of PCR tests. You can collect the urine sample (for males) or the vaginal swab (for females) from the comfort of your home and send it for testing.12

In A Nutshell

The PCR technology is a highly specific, sensitive, cost-effective, and rapid method to get tested for sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia or gonorrhoea. You can experience the benefits of PCR tests with advanced processes that can detect even a trace amount of infections in your sample. Getting tested at the right time will help you avoid long-term repercussions of untreated STIs like infertility, PID, ectopic pregnancy or reactive.

References

  1. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/sexually-transmitted-infections-(stis) 
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4508611/ 
  3. https://www.khanacademy.org/science/ap-biology/gene-expression-and-regulation/biotechnology/a/polymerase-chain-reaction-pcr 
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4102308/ 
  5. https://www.genome.gov/about-genomics/fact-sheets/Polymerase-Chain-Reaction-Fact-Sheet 
  6. https://www.cdc.gov/std/pid/stdfact-pid.htm 
  7. https://www.yourgenome.org/facts/what-is-pcr-polymerase-chain-reaction/ 
  8. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/chlamydia-gonorrhea-and-syphilis 
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24484215/ 
  10. https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/pcr-tests/ 
  11. https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/chronic/discreen.htm 
  12. https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/chlamydia-test/ 

References