Nucleic acid metrology


With its nucleic acid metrology project, METAS is setting out to establish the basic principles for metrologically traceable measurements of nucleic acids. The analysis of nucleic acids is a subarea of laboratory medicine with great potential for the future: measurement accuracy and comparability are of particular importance especially for biological analytes with long-term relevance. For this development and advancement work, METAS is establishing a metrological laboratory for laboratory medicine with the focus on nucleic acids.

Laboratory medicine measurements play a central role in medicine. Although performed to a very high standard of quality in Switzerland, they are not currently entirely comparable with one another. Metrologically traced measurement values could bring considerable improvements here. Important aspects are the production and distribution of laboratory medicine reference measurement methods and materials of a higher order. Here, striving for the very highest accuracy of individual measurements is not the primary objective; instead, the goal is to create added value for patients by increasing the comparability of different analysis systems and laboratories.


Based on international collaboration, reference materials should be produced for nucleic acid metrology and the necessary measurement methods developed for metrological traceability of the values. To this end, we are expanding our measurement capabilities in the area of nucleic acid detection through quantitative and digital PCR systems (PCR = polymerase chain reaction) and are working in particular on the quantitative use of new high-throughput sequencing methods.

Among other things, we are establishing and improving preparation methods for certain pathogens involved in sepsis as part of a European metrology research project (Project Septimet). Moreover, within the framework of European collaboration projects, METAS is participating in the European metrology network on Traceability in Laboratory Medicine (TraceLabMed). Its task is the joint provision of a coordinated and service-oriented European metrology infrastructure, especially in the area of in-vitro diagnostics. This European network is integrated into a worldwide collaboration within the framework of the Joint Committee for Traceability in Laboratory Medicine (JCTLM) and the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (IFCC).


Nucleic acid metrology is part of intensive European and global endeavours to improve the comparability, measurement accuracy and traceability of laboratory medicine measurements. It is METAS’s appropriate response to changed regulatory and scientific framework conditions in Switzerland and abroad.

With its work in the field of nucleic acid metrology, METAS is not acting either as a controller or as a diagnostics provider, but rather makes available its knowledge and experience to the players in the laboratory sector, doing so within the framework of its legal mandate and in the interest of a high-quality Swiss healthcare system. Its goal is to help shape the long-term development of nucleic acid analysis.

METAS is a dependable contact and service provider for questions concerning metrological traceability of nucleic acids.


Opening laboratory

Opening of the laboratory for nucleic acid analysis

Since 2019, METAS has been expanding its measurement capabilities in the field of nucleic acid detection. In order to be available as a reliable contact and service provider for questions regarding the metrological traceability of nucleic acids, METAS has also set up premises for a biological analysis laboratory.

The new laboratory for nucleic acid analysis was inaugurated with a small event on 11 November 2021. Representatives of clinical chemistry, related federal laboratories, the Federal Office for Buildings and Logistics BBL, members of the project's support group, the Vice-President of the Institute Council and the entire METAS management attended this event. After the welcoming address by Dr Ursula Widmer, Vice-President of the Institute Council, and Dr Hanspeter Andres from the METAS Executive Board, Dr Matthias Rösslein from the Particles-biology Interactions Lab at EMPA and Prof. Dr Carlo Largiadèr from the University Institute for Clinical Chemistry at the Inselspital Bern each gave a short presentation on the importance of nucleic acid metrology. The project leader, Dr Kai Stölting, briefly introduced the lab.

Last modification 20.06.2024

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Federal Institut of Metrology
Kai Stölting
Lindenweg 50
3003 Bern-Wabern
T +41 58 387 05 20

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