Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) promises rapid, sensitive and specific diagnosis of infectious, inherited and genetic disease. The next generation of diagnostic devices will interrogate the genetic determinants of such conditions at the point-of-care, affording clinicians prompt reliable diagnosis from which to guide more effective treatment. The complex biochemical nature of clinical samples, the low abundance of nucleic acid targets in the majority of clinical samples and existing biosensor technology indicate that some form of nucleic acid amplification will be required to obtain clinically relevant sensitivities from the small samples used in point-of-care testing (POCT). This publication provides an overview and thorough review of existing technologies for nucleic acid amplification. The different methods are compared and their suitability for POCT adaptation are discussed. Current commercial products employing isothermal amplification strategies are also investigated. In conclusion we identify the factors impeding the integration of the methods discussed in fully automated, sample-to-answer POCT devices.
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