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Illustration of laptop and data for article on PCR software.
Published On: December 28th, 2021

PCR is a popular lab technique with genomics, medicine, forensic science, and environmental biology applications. In 1993, the scientist who developed PCR, Kary Mullins, was awarded a Nobel prize in chemistry. Since then, PCR has revolutionized biology. PCR testing with nasal swabs is the gold standard for diagnosing Covid-19.How are scientists today using software to improve PCR? Lab control software and high throughput screening software helps labs schedule and analyze PCR tests. Synthetic biology seeks to find the best methods for conducting experiments by integrating software and advanced technology with traditional biology techniques.

What is PCR?

PCR stands for a polymerase chain reaction. PCR amplifies DNA so that samples with small amounts of DNA can be analyzed. DNA strands are denatured and replicated until the DNA concentration is sufficiently high. Think of PCR like a copy machine for DNA strands. It makes many copies of the same DNA strands so that it’s easier to learn about that DNA.

PCR only refers to the process of copying the DNA. Scientists use measurement and analysis methods after PCR to detect and describe DNA. Using software to improve PCR gives biologists more time to focus on measurement and analysis.

Types of PCR

There are many types of PCR, but the most common types are qPCR and RT-PCR. qPCR stands for quantitative PCR. qPCR adds fluorescent dye and a fluorometer to the end of the PCR process, turning it into a measurement procedure. The dye stains the target sequence in the DNA a fluorescent color, and the fluorometer picks up that color. This gives a quantitative measurement of how much of that target sequence is present in the sample. One way scientists are using software to improve PCR is by uploading fluorometer results to a digital platform.

RT-PCR stands for reverse transcriptase PCR. RT-PCR adds a step to the beginning of the PCR process. Sometimes a sample contains RNA instead of DNA. Many viruses are classified as RNA viruses, including Sars-Cov 2, the virus responsible for Covid-19. RNA can’t be amplified the way that DNA can. RT-PCR uses the reverse transcriptase enzyme to convert RNA into complementary DNA. This complementary DNA (cDNA) can then be amplified using PCR.

You can combine these techniques to perform qRT-PCR, a full experiment transforming RNA into DNA, amplifying that DNA, staining it, and measuring it with a fluorometer. COVID-19 PCR tests use qRT-PCR.

Laboratory Scheduling Software

Lab scheduling software helps lab teams plan automation equipment use. For example, before a PCR test begins, a team can minimize human resources and instrumentation required by using lab automation controlled by Laboratory Scheduling Software. Scheduling software is also a valuable part of a lab’s quality control process, making it easier to monitor experiments in progress.

Lab Instrument Interface Software

Lab instrument interface software allows scientists to bypass some of the time-consuming steps of data collection and analysis. Interface software connects a lab tool to a software platform such as an electronic health record or electronic laboratory notebook. In addition, some interface software can automate steps in the experimental process, reducing the need for lab techs to conduct each step in person.

Integrating Software into Your PCR Process

Curious about a synthetic biology workstation that suits your lab? Contact Hudson Robotics to learn about Hudson software, PCR analysis software, laboratory scheduling software, and lab instrument interface software. Using software to improve PCR will pay dividends as this technique increases in popularity.