Advances in nucleic acid amplification technologies have revolutionized diagnostics for systemic, inherited, and infectious diseases. Current assays and platforms, however, often require lengthy experimental procedures and multiple instruments to remove contaminants and inhibitors from clinically-relevant, complex samples. This requirement of sample preparation has been a bottleneck for using nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) at the point of care (POC), though advances in “lab-on-chip” platforms that integrate sample preparation and NAATs have made great strides in this space. Alternatively, direct NAATs—techniques that minimize or even bypass sample preparation—present promising strategies for developing POC diagnostic tools for analyzing real-world samples. In this review, we discuss the current status of direct NAATs. Specifically, we surveyed potential testing systems published from 1989 to 2017, and analyzed their performances in terms of robustness, sensitivity, clinical relevance, and suitability for POC diagnostics. We introduce bubble plots to facilitate our analysis, as bubble plots enable effective visualization of the performances of these direct NAATs. Through our review, we hope to initiate an in-depth examination of direct NAATs and their potential for realizing POC diagnostics, and ultimately transformative technologies that can further enhance healthcare.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited