The science and medicine world is high on the use of ELISA testing, it is something sort of revolutionary which has changed testing and is helping medicine further, testing be quicker, and the world become healthier.
Overall, you can theoretically get these tests with ease, check out MyBioSource ELISA Test Kits, for example. However, rather than telling you about that, we want to help you understand what the ELISA method really is.
The Basic Principles
ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay) is a technique that is used in order to detect infectious agents and antibodies in a simple sample.
Antibodies are something that our body makes in response to infection, and so this type of ELISA testing can tell us if an animal has been in contact with a particular virus. Alternatively antigen ELISA tests can tell us if an animal is infected with a specific virus by detecting it.
When using ELISA to test for an antibody, the antigens are stuck onto a surface made of plastic, and a sample is added to it, then any antibodies that are being tested will bind to these antigens.
Then another antibody with a particular marker will be added, and any positive reaction will be detected by this marker as it changes color when a particular substrate is included. If there are no antibodies, the second antibody won’t be able to stick and the color won’t change.
Alternatively for ELISA tests for antigens, the antibodies are bound to a surface made of plastic and a sample will be added. If antigens from the particular virus are there then they will stick to these antibodies. This will then go the same way as the ELISA antibody test.
So, generally, it is actually a pretty simple process for testing.
What Exactly IS An ELISA Test?
ELISA is simply a test that will detect and measure any antibodies in your blood. It can be used to detect specific conditions. These antibodies are proteins that our bodies make in order to fight off antigens which are harmful to us.
There are a few things ELISA is used to detect;
- Lyme disease
- HIV/ AIDS
- Pernicious anemia
- Varicella-zoster virus (causes shingles and chickenpox)
- Squamous cell carcinoma
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever
- Zika virus
ELISA is like the first call of action before more in-depth tests are used. Doctors can suggest ELISA if you have any signs or symptoms of an above condition, they may also use ELISA to rule out the above as well.
How Are These Tests Done?
These tests are actually really simple to do, even though they may sound somewhat complex at first. If you need an ELISA test done, you do need to sign a form and your doctor should explain why this test is being done.
ELISA means you will need to give a sample of your blood, this is not unlike any other time blood is taken, or even like giving blood. Your arm will be cleaned and then a band or tourniquet will be applied to your arm to create pressure and get your veins swelling.
A needle will be inserted into a vein to draw blood and when enough have been drawn the needle will be taken out, and you will receive a small bandage.
You may be asked to maintain pressure at this site for a little while to reduce the flow of blood, just like any other blood test.
It is pretty painless (unless you are squeamish), your arm might throb or feel heavy for a bit, but that’s about as bad as it gets.
Your sample will then be sent to the lab to be looked at, and the above tests will be done to test for whichever condition it is you have been tested for. The technician will run the tests, if the sample changes color you may have the condition, if not, you’re all clear!
What Are The Pros And Cons Of ELISA?
Nothing is perfect as we know and while ELISA has plenty of upsides it does have downsides too.
Let’s consider the pros and cons of this fashion of testing.
- It is easy to do,
- It can determine the amount of antigen in a single sample.
- You can test various types of samples.
- It is highly sensitive and specific.
- It is throughput, often available in 96-well plate, although assays can be adapted to 384- well plates.
- There is limited information on the antigen, it is limited to the amount in the sample.
- The detection is based on substrate/enzyme reactions and so it’s a bit time restrictive.