The future of digital polymerase chain reaction in virology
Driven by its potential benefits over currently available methods, and the recent development of commercial platforms, digital polymerase chain reaction (dPCR) has received increasing attention in virology research and diagnostics as a tool for the quantification of nucleic acids. The current technologies are more precise and accurate, but may not be much more sensitive, compared with quantitative PCR (qPCR) applications. The most promising applications with the current technology are the analysis of mutated sequences, such as emerging drug-resistant mutations. Guided by the recent literature, this review focuses on three aspects that demonstrate the potential of dPCR for virology researchers and clinicians: the applications of dPCR within both virology research and clinical virology, the benefits of the technique over the currently used real-time qPCR, and the importance and availability of specific data analysis approaches for dPCR. Comments are provided on current drawbacks and often overlooked pitfalls that need further attention to allow widespread implementation of dPCR as an accurate and precise tool within the field of virology.