A rapid and simplified technique for detecting hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA by spot hybridisation in the sera of patients with different clinical forms of HBV infection was investigated using enzyme conjugated synthetic oligodeoxyribonucleotides as probes. These are able to hybridize to the S and C regions of the HBV L(-) DNA strand. When compared with a complete 32P-labelled HBV DNA probe, the synthetic oligonucleotides provided a sensitive and quick method for the routine survey of HBV infection. Moreover, the DNA extraction procedure used allowed the spot hybridisation technique to be applied and read easily and the results obtained within a few hours. It is concluded that synthetic cold probes can be used in hybridisation assays HBV DNA detection as part of current clinical laboratory procedures.
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