What is an RT-PCR Test?

Here at Discovery Genomics, we offer an RT-PCR test.  RT-PCR stands for Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction. It is also known as qPCR (quantitative PCR) and is not to be confused with rtPCR (reverse transcription PCR) which we will not be delving into today. These words may be unfamiliar to you when strung together, especially if you do not regularly work in a laboratory setting, so we will break it down.



Before we get into what an RT-PCR test does, however, we must understand what a regular PCR test does. A Polymerase Chain Reaction, or PCR, is a laboratory technique used to measure the amount of genetic material from a sample of interest. It has many uses and is widely regarded as one of the most important laboratory techniques ever discovered. Traditional PCR tests measure the amount genetic material that has been “amplified” after the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) itself has stopped. Amplification, in this setting, refers to the process of isolating a gene or genes of interest and making a lot of copies of them. If the gene of interest is not present in a sample, a PCR test will not yield any “amplified” genetic material.


Real-Time PCR means that detection of the genetic material happens throughout the amplification process. So, Real-Time PCR has the advantage of allowing for “real time” detection of genetic material, resulting in more sensitive test results. Sensitivity means that we can detect positive cases earlier into an infection, which in turn helps reduce the spread of Covid-19. So why does this distinction matter? Well, traditional PCR tests must be run to completion to quantify the amount of genetic material present. RT-PCR allows for a real time observation of the genetic material and quantifies it after each successive round of amplification. RT-PCR tests are recommended and used by the CDC themselves, for detection of Covid-19. This is not to be confused with a rapid test, which is often antigen based and usually relies on an entirely different process.

The Gold Standard COVID-19 Test

At Discovery Genomics, our test is specific to three different genes from Covid-19, whereas most other Covid-19 tests use one or two genes. The increased number of genes that we amplify also leads to a higher sensitivity in our testing process. A positive test outcome comes from detection of 2 out of the three genes. This is especially beneficial for detecting Covid-19 variants in which a gene that out tests are looking for is mutated. In that case the Discovery Genomics Laboratory can still produce a positive test result against the mutant strain. Discovery Genomics’ RT-PCR Covid-19 tests are the cutting edge of accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity. 

Being your trusted Covid-19 Testing Partner, RT-PCR Test is now available for appointments Here

To learn more about the RT-PCR Test, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/lab/rt-pcr-panel-primer-probes.html

Written By: Andrew Ingalls – Feb 04, 2021