Bacteria are of various types some of them are infectious whereas, majority of them are beneficial for the body. Any bacteria that cause an infectious disease are called pathogens. Diagnosis of causative organism of a bacterial disease has always been difficult, since infections show similar symptoms like fever and lethargy. Routine clinical diagnosis have high error rate, administering the wrong antibiotics can sometimes increase infection and can even result in death.
The oldest method for diagnosis has been culturing of bacteria, these cultures allow only specific species to grow in the medium, however this method is very time consuming and can seldom be done on time to successfully diagnose and treat the patient. Newer techniques like rapid culture methods with ionized mass spectrometry are currently in use for diagnosing some rare bacteria.
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Currently, PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) sequencer is the most favored and well know method. The PCR can amplify bacterial DNA a thousand times if necessary, any routine diagnosis requires only a min of 10 – 80 bacteria, which means PCR has a very high sensitivity. This factor is exploited for countless diagnostic processes. PCR also doesn’t require purification of the bacterial sample compared to older methods as it has specific sequences to identify bacterial DNA.
Versatility of PCR has proven to be a big advantage, diagnosis of many dangerous diseases like tuberculosis, pneumonia etc are done with the intention to specify whether the strain is drug resistant. This greatly increases the success rate of treatment. The shortcomings of PCR are also eminent; PCR is susceptible to false positive report in presence of any contamination, it is also not useful in calculating the success of a treatment, as PCR recognizes dead and living cells as the same. Technical expertise is a major requirement in PCR handling. PCR techniques also require a number of biochemical reagents that are quite expensive.
Development has been made to create more specific and customized versions of PCR machines with greater accuracy and low false positive rates. These include; PCR ribotyping techniques which are much faster and highly specific to certain strains; multiplex PCR that can detect multiple pathogens in a single go and nested PCR a modified error negating version of PCR. Such modified versions are currently available in laboratories and are offered as a diagnostic service and are seldom used as a large-scale diagnostic tool. However, with the entry of novel ‘portable PCR’ there is a scope for diagnostic evolution in future.
On the other hand, scientists throughout the world are developing ideas in Electrophoresis methods and tests for biological proteins that are produced in the body in reaction to an infection. In newborns such tests are done to investigate the diseases that have late onset period. With increasing population and globalization, the chance of infection remains high, diseases too have gone global. In addition, diagnosing a disease before it becomes an epidemic is very critical. Thus, PCR and electrophoresis machines helps in early and fast diagnosis of these diseases that leads to an increase in the demand for PCR and electrophoresis machines. However, lack of skilled professionals/technicians and high cost of these devices restricts the overall growth of bacterial disease diagnostics market.
Some of the companies that produce PCR machines are Techne, GeneriBiotech, Roche diagnostics and ZyGEM to name a few. The sales of these devices are currently highest in the developed nations of the North Americas and Europe whereas, Asia-Pacific region shows the highest growth followed by South America and Africa.
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