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Limitations of Nucleic Acid Testing
Nucleic acid testing (NAT) has not and will not be able to completely solve the problem of emerging pathogens. Even if a test is available, it requires a certain amount of genetic material in the sample to be amplified to sufficient amounts. It has been shown that testing a pool or even a minipool of blood components does not provide unambiguous results, as pooling may dilute the pathogenic material and cause the assay to fail due to its limited sensitivity. Another problem with NAT is that mutations in the pathogen’s genome may prevent the primers to bind to the template, and as a result the PCR test will not generate enough amplicons to be detected. This can also lead to false-negative results.