Respiratory viral infections are one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality, particularly in children, the elderly and immunocompromised persons. Rapid identification of viral etiology is critical in ruling out non-viral infections, initiating antiviral treatment and limiting the spread of the infection. Multiplex assays of more than one viral gene target in a single tube have the advantage of rapid screening of a large number of potential viral pathogens in a short time. A multiplex real-time PCR assay was used in this study for detection of respiratory RNA and DNA viral infections in 728 specimens received from 585 adult and pediatric patients comprised of symptomatic and asymptomatic organ transplant recipients and non-recipients for diagnosis of respiratory illnesses and for routine clinical monitoring. Multiplex PCR was more sensitive than the multiplex immunofluoresence culture assay (R-mix) and also detected additional respiratory viruses that were not covered by the R-mix panel. The number of respiratory viruses detected in symptomatic patients was significantly higher than asymptomatic patients in both adult and pediatric patients. Herpesviral infections were the predominant cause of lower respiratory tract infection in the organ transplant recipients, whereas respiratory syncytial virus was the most common pathogen in non-transplant patients particularly children. Multiplex real-time PCR for detection of respiratory viruses has the potential for rapid identification of viral pathogens. In this era of emerging viral infections, addition of newer viral targets to the multiplex PCR panels will be beneficial in determining both patient management and public health epidemiology.
Current approaches for detecting circulating tumour cells (CTCs) in blood are dependent on CTC enrichment and are based either on surface epithelial markers on CTCs or on cell size differences. The objectives of this study were to develop and characterise an ultrasensitive multiplex fluorescent RNA in situ hybridisation (ISH)-based CTC detection system called CTCscope. This method detects a multitude of tumour-specific markers at single-cell level in blood.Healthy blood samples spiked with tumour cell lines were used as a model system for the development and initial characterisation of CTCscope. To demonstrate the feasibility of CTC detection in patient blood, duplicate blood samples were drawn from 45 metastatic breast cancer patients for analysis by CTCscope and the CellSearch system. The association of CTCs with the tumour marker CA15-3 and progression-free survival (PFS) were assessed.CTCscope detected CTC transcripts of eight epithelial markers and three epithelial-mesenchymal-transition (EMT) markers for increased sensitivity. CTCscope was used to detect CTCs with minimal enrichment, and did not detect apoptotic or dead cells. In patient blood samples, CTCs detected by CellSearch, but not CTCscope, were positively correlated with CA15-3 levels. Circulating tumour cells detected by either CTCscope or CellSearch predicted PFS (CTCscope, HR (hazard ratio) 2.26, 95% CI 1.18-4.35, P=0.014; CellSearch, HR 2.50, 95% CI 1.27-4.90, P=0.008).CTCscope offers unique advantages over existing CTC detection approaches. By enumerating and characterising only viable CTCs, CTCscope provides additional prognostic and predictive information in therapy monitoring.