Healthcare Technology Featured Article

August 04, 2020

Understanding Immunoassay Tests

Immunoassay tests have multiple beneficial effects in medicine. One of their main uses is to detect diseases that have started to take place in the human body. Immunoassay tests are a biochemical test that is able to detect the disease through the use of an antigen-antibody reaction. Essentially this means that the immunoassay test is meant to locate the presence of an analyte.

What Is An Analyte?

An analyte can be a number of items that come from the human body. Usually, an analyte is a large protein, a particular kind of small molecule, or an antibody that someone has started to produce from an infection or disease they had. The test will then be created specifically for the analyte its meant to detect.

Are Immunoassays Tests Always 100% Accurate?

Unfortunately, one of the complications that can come with immunoassay tests is that they cannot always detect the antibodies that are generated by the human body while the person is still sick. Some diseases, such as COVID-19, don’t provide the body with enough time to begin producing antibodies until the virus has almost run its course. Therefore, an immunoassay test wouldn’t be unhelpful in identifying COVID-19 while the virus is still active in a person’s body. Yet, once COVID-19 is done, an immunoassay test will be able to tell the person about the antibodies they have. However, for some longer-lasting diseases, immunoassay tests are an imperative way to determine what sicknesses a person possesses if they haven’t been given a diagnosis already.

Immunoassay tests are highly successful at determining if the test taker has a particular antibody if there are enough antibodies present within the person’s system. Usually, these tests can take a couple of minutes to a couple of days to determine if a person has the antibodies in question.

Why Do People Want To Know What Antibodies or Analytes They Possess?

Immunoassay tests can be extremely helpful for people who suspect that they may have been exposed to a particular disease but they are not sure. This is usually because the person had such minor symptoms that they’re unsure if they truly ever contracted a particular virus or disease or not.

Since immunoassay tests can tell if a person has the resistance to a particular disease, this can help the test taker make more informed decisions in the future. While no antibody test will guarantee that a person can’t be reinfected with the same disease in the future, having the specific antibodies to fight the disease usually means that it will not affect the person as severely in the future or the person will be able to fight it off before they even have a physical immune response.

Some test takers are also interested in knowing if they have a particular disease of if they have had it in the past because it could affect the treatment options they look at in the future. Some treatment options will be better suited for a particular person if their immunoassay test shows that they possess a large number of the antibodies in question. If a different test taker only has a small percentage of the antibodies, then their physician may recommend a different course of action.

How Do Immunoassay Tests Work?

As stated above, immunoassay tests are able to identify infections through detected antibodies that are present in the test taker’s body. Usually, a physician will remove a small amount of blood or another type of bodily fluid. After the person’s blood or bodily fluid has been collected, it’ll be sent to a research center. From there, the immunoassay test will be applied to the person’s fluids.

Immunoassay tests work under the assumption that a person’s antigens will bind to newly produced antibodies. Usually, people only possess a specific antibody if they have a particular disease or have had the disease in the past.

Since antibodies are highly sensitive to certain analytes, like hormones, nucleoproteins, and peptides, the immunoassay test can use these analytes to detect the antibodies in question. The immunoassay test will use reagents to detect the creation of the antigen-antibody complexes. When this detection happens, a color change will take place and this signals that the specific analyte the researchers were looking for is present. Immunoassay tests are also able to determine the amount of antibodies that a person has because it can affect their treatment options (as stated above). The amount (or the saturation level) of the color will help the researchers determine the amount of the antibodies that are present in the test taker’s body.

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