molecular epidemiology

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molecular epidemiology2016-12-27T23:36:03+00:00

molecular epidemiology


Definition A multi-disciplinary sub-specialty of epidemiology that uses the standard tools of epidemiology—case studies, questionnaires and monitoring of exposure to external factors—and those of cell and molecular biology–e.g., restriction endonucleases, nucleic acid hybridisation, PCR and other amplification techniques and agarose gel electrophoresis, to understand the natural history of diseases and ultimately develop more effective therapies.

Molecular epidemiology studies the relatedness of microorganisms based on variations in shared gene sequences–e.g., hsp65 for Mycobacterium spp using molecular genetic techniques–e.g., ribotyping, and chromosomal fingerprinting; at its current stage of development, the most viable data in ME is provided by direct sequencing of PCR-amplified gene segments.

Molecular epidemiology

• Traces the source of a pathogen, and relates it to similar organisms in the environment

• Identifies strains of pathogens–bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses that may be linked to nosocomial or community-acquired infections, or epidemics and

• Monitor carcinogens–e.g., measurement of PAH-adducts 


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