PCR’s Influence Across Industries
Polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, has become a standard tool for diagnosing and monitoring diseases. Today, PCR-based diagnostic tests may be found in laboratories worldwide. Roche has made significant investments to develop testing applications using this Nobel Prize-winning technology.
Since its conception in 1983, PCR has been used across many fields of biological science to allow the study of individual DNA. Whether determining the pedigree of a dog or a horse, to verifying paternity of a child or exonerating someone wrongly accused of a crime, PCR has permeated our everyday lives. In enabling the precise study of our own genetic codes, PCR has opened our eyes to the fact that though our DNA is similar, we each have sequence differences that make us individually unique.
Using DNA analysis made possible by PCR, scientists have been able to:
- Identify potential suspects whose DNA may match evidence left at crime scenes
- Exonerate persons wrongly accused of crimes
- Identify crime and catastrophe victims
- Establish paternity and other family relationships
- Identify endangered and protected species as an aid to wildlife officials
- Detect bacteria and other organisms that may pollute air, water, soil and food
- Match organ donors with recipients in transplant programs
- Determine pedigree for seed or livestock breeds
- Authenticate consumables such as caviar and wine
PCR and the Entertainment Industry
PCR appears in popular movies and television shows, and was the inspiration for Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton’s successful book and movie about dinosaurs that come to life because their DNA, found preserved in amber, could be copied via PCR.
Every evening, people can see PCR in action on crime fighting shows that use forensic DNA technology to identify suspects.1 On a recent movie set, actors learned how to do PCR, to help them identify with the scientific processes explored in the film.2
PCR has often been recognized as one of the most important scientific discoveries of the 20th century. Based on its broad influence in academia as well as industry, the reach and impact of the technology may continue to grow and to help us unlock the mysteries contained in our genetic codes.