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July 15, 1992

Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Author Affiliations

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

JAMA. 1992;268(3):397-399. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490030109048

In the last year, the development and use of new methods to improve diagnostic acumen in anatomic pathology have continued to be major endeavors. One of the most exciting new techniques is the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). This technology allows the synthesis of multiple copies of DNA from extremely small starting samples of DNA or RNA. Polymerase chain reaction has been performed on single cells, blood spots, embryos, and tissues embedded in paraffin blocks.1 In diagnostic pathology, PCR has been used to document the presence of Epstein-Barr virus sequences in Hodgkin's disease2; to study lineage and clonality in lymphomas3 and gene rearrangements in B- and T-lymphoproliferative disorders4; and to detect human T-cell leukemialymphoma viruses.5 The PCR technology performed on the DNA extracted from chorionic villi has been used for the prenatal diagnosis of genetic diseases, such as cystic fibrosis and β-thalassemia.6 Such an approach