Fungal Nail Infections

Written by: Solaris Diagnostics

Fungal nail infections are common infections caused by the overgrowth of fungi which disrupt the environment of the toenail or fingernail through small cracks in the nail or surrounding skin. These pathogens can cause the nail to appear discolored (yellow, brown, or white), fragile or cracked, thickened, and even distorted in shape. According to the CDC,  anyone can get a fungal nail infection. Older adults and patients with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, weakened immune system, blood circulation problems, and athletes’ foot are more susceptible.

First described by Georg Meissner in 1853, the technical name for a fungal nail infection is “onychomycosis”. Typically, clinical diagnosis uses conventional methods such as microscopy or culturing. But the accuracy of the diagnosis is important. Solaris Diagnostics utilizes qPCR (real-time polymerase chain reaction) analysis to improve the sensitivity and specificity of detecting fungi in patients suspected of onychomycosis for a successful treatment.

Using chemical and mechanical disruption, DNA can be extracted and purified from nail clippings or scrapings. Once isolated, fluorescently tagged primer-probes target species-specific nucleic acid sequences for in vitro quantitative detection. qPCR’s unique toolkit uses a thermocycler to produce a measurable fluorescent signal that builds a sigmoidal amplification curve, indicative that a pathogen is present.

This type of testing greatly improves the efficiency for specific detection and diagnosis versus using traditional cultures. Solaris Diagnostics laboratory can provide detection of potential nail fungal pathogens with a turnaround time (TAT) of 24 hours from the time the sample is received in the laboratory. Our advanced molecular testing provides fast, definitive results leading to effective treatments of fungal nail infections.

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