Using an immune-related molecule, usually an antibody, to measure an analyte in a sample makes up the basics of an immunoassay. The best-known version is the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). With an ELISA, says Ricardo Brandwijk, R&D scientist at Hycult Biotech, measuring “biomarkers in the fluid phase for quantificational purposes is the most applied application.” Part of the wide use of immunoassays in general comes from the ability to use many kinds of samples, from blood and synovial fluid to lysed cells and tissues. Consequently, scientists use immunoassays for basic and clinical work. As Brandwijk says, “In most cases, results between healthy/control and diseased/affected are compared.”
Other analytical methods, especially ones that require culturing samples, slow down progress. “Rapid diagnosis is hampered due to the time required for the cultivation and identification of infecting microorganisms,” says Sabrina Dominici, senior R&D researcher at Diatheva. “Therefore, a great deal of interest has been shown in the development of new practical techniques for the rapid diagnosis of infections, and most of these techniques involve immunoassays.”
These tools get turned on an increasing number of biological and medical problems. “A number of recent studies have demonstrated the utility of blood-based protein biomarkers for early detection of cancer, neurodegenerative disease progression, and monitoring response and resistance to immunotherapy,” says Jeremy Lambert, director of marketing at Quanterix. “Traditionally, protein biomarkers found in ultra-low levels, particularly neurological ones, have only been detectable in cerebral spinal fluid, but being able to detect such critical biomarkers in blood and serum has the potential to transform how disease and brain injuries are diagnosed.” Immunoassays can provide that level of detection.
To make it all as easy as possible, though, scientists want the technology in a kit. Such ready-to-use products, says Dominici, “are highly adaptable and can be applied to many formats depending on the needs of the end user.”
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