Molecular Pathology Service
Molecular pathology is simply the application of molecular-based techniques to determine the cause and diagnosis of disease. This is a field of greatest possible excitement today - both for what is happening right now, as well as for hints of what will follow 'tomorrow'.
A major breakthrough in molecular pathology has been the development of molecular assays that can find the proverbial needle in a haystack. Literally, one molecule among trillions can be detected, captured and identified. These molecular assays are ushering in a whole new age of diagnostic capabilities. At Cedars-Sinai's Molecular Pathology Laboratory, we already perform assays for viruses (such as HIV, HCV and HPV) and for bacteria (such as Staphylococcus and Chlamydia ). We also perform genetic tests and assays for leukemia, lymphoma and breast cancer.
Today nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) are commonly assayed in molecular pathology laboratories. For example, nucleic acids in viruses and bacteria may be detected and used as fingerprints to identify these microbes, sometimes in minutes. This information can be used to help fight deadly infections in hospitalized patients, as well as threats of bioterrorism.
The most exciting development in molecular pathology today is the gene chip. The gene chip is a breakthrough that mirrors the discovery of the silicon-based computer chip. Gene chips hold samples of thousands of normal genes. In a single gene chip assay, DNA and RNA from normal cells and from tumors, pathogenic bacteria or viruses (just as starters) can be scanned with lasers and compared. That information can then processed by the most sophisticated computer programs available. At Cedars-Sinai information from gene chips is currently used for the diagnosis and prognosis of certain cancers. Tomorrow all cancers may be diagnosed and then the best treatments determined through the use of gene chip assays in molecular pathology laboratories.
Tomorrow molecular pathology may help diagnose many diseases before they can occur. DNA could help determine your genetic tendencies for diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, cancer, diabetes, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Once a diagnosis is made, medical interventions could help prevent the disease.