Medical Fun Facts Episode 44: Serology

Medical Fun Facts Episode 44: Serology

So, what is serology? I’m going to confine myself to describing serology in clinical microbiology. Serology is a technique used to diagnose infections and determine the cause of an infection. In days gone by, especially with some hard to grow viruses and some fastidious or dangerous bacteria, serology was the best way to make a diagnosis. That said, serology is an indirect method of diagnosis. You make a series of assumptions when using serology to diagnose an infection. In clinical microbiology circles, it’s often said that serology can be as much art as it is science.

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Medical Fun Facts Episode 43: PCR

Medical Fun Facts Episode 43: PCR

So, what is PCR? PCR stands for polymerase chain reaction. It’s now a technique that has been used in research and diagnostics for more than two decades. I remember doing my fifth-year medical school elective at the Sir Albert Sakzewski Virus Research Laboratory at the Royal Children’s Hospital and seeing PCR in action using buckets of hot and cold water. This was before the availability of taq polymerase. I’ll explain that soon.

PCR is a technique we use to amplify short segments of DNA in clinical specimens or from cultured material to develop millions of copies of these short DNA segments to make it easier to identify microorganisms including bacteria, viruses and parasites.

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Medical Fun Facts Episode 42: MCS

Medical Fun Facts Episode 42: MCS

In microbiology medical testing laboratories, the bulk of specimens are for microscopy and culture, and if bacteria grow the referring doctor would like to know what antimicrobials the bacterium is resistant to as well as what it may be susceptible to. Sensitivity is an older word we used to use but which didn’t quite represent what we were trying to achieve in the laboratory. These days, we’re not just interested in susceptibility but also resistance. I like to think about ART or antimicrobial resistance testing as opposed to AST, i.e., antimicrobial susceptibility testing. Knowing what a bacterium is resistant to in many ways is more important.

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Medical Fun Facts Episode 40: Y

Medical Fun Facts Episode 40: Y

Tonight’s episode is about something beginning with the letter Y. I wanted to talk about Alexandre Yersin.

Yersin was born in Switzerland to French parents. He studied medicine in Switzerland but wanted to practice in France so he changed his nationality.

Before his work on plague, Yersin worked on the diphtheria toxin.

In the late 1800s, Yersin went to work in Indochina and while there was directed by the French Government to Hong Kong to work on the Manchurian pneumonic plague.

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