INTRODUCTION: Rapid and sensitive diagnostic strategies are necessary for patient care and public health. Most of the current conventional microbiological assays detect only a restricted panel of pathogens at a time or require a microbe to be successfully cultured from a sample. Clinical metagenomics next-generation sequencing (mNGS) has the potential to unbiasedly detect all pathogens in a sample, increasing the sensitivity for detection and enabling the discovery of unknown infectious agents.
AREAS COVERED: High expectations have been built around mNGS; however, this technique is far from widely available. This review highlights the advances and currently available options in terms of costs, turnaround time, sensitivity, specificity, validation, and reproducibility of mNGS as a diagnostic tool in clinical microbiology laboratories.
EXPERT OPINION: The need for a novel diagnostic tool to increase the sensitivity of microbial diagnostics is clear. mNGS has the potential to revolutionise clinical microbiology. However, its role as a diagnostic tool has yet to be widely established, which is crucial for successfully implementing the technique. A clear definition of diagnostic algorithms that include mNGS is vital to show clinical utility. Similarly to real-time PCR, mNGS will one day become a vital tool in any testing algorithm.