ELISA Method in Cancer Biomarker Discovery: Recent Breakthroughs

Cancer has become a primary cause of mortality in the world. Several factors, such as exposure to radiation, infections, etc., can disrupt cells and result in cancerous cells. Diagnosing cancer based on visual symptoms is not recommended, as early diagnosis is critical for survival of cancer patients. Cancer is diagnosed by detecting proteins and oligonucleotides released during the early stages of cancer, which are not present in the same concentrations in healthy humans. These biomarkers are critical for understanding the stage and type of cancer. Hence, robust detection methods are vital for sensitive and specific estimations of biomarkers. 

Considering the cancer stage and population variability, ideally, cancer diagnosis requires panels with multiple biomarkers for enhanced accuracy. Additionally, non-invasive or minimally invasive testing with high sensitivity and selectivity is desirable. Hence, commonly employed detection techniques such as ELISA and other immunosensor-based systems are used to detect and analyze cancer biomarkers. Today, with advances in biological engineering and research, scientists have discovered multiple biomarkers specific to certain cancers and their biomechanics. The current article dives into the recent breakthrough in the ELISA Method for cancer biomarkers and drug discovery.

ELISA assay development for cancer research

ELISA labs usually employ optical sandwich ELISA-based assays in clinical practice. These methods use antibodies against the desired biomarker or antigen. The sandwich ELISA method offers amplified response, and hence, a better detection range. Therefore, optical ELISA methods are highly sensitive, specific, and reproducible in cancer research and diagnosis. However, with any technological advances, development in biological assay validation will be beneficial for rapid diagnosing and testing.

Electrochemical assays have shown promise in overcoming several experimental hurdles. Hence, ELISA services are increasingly employing electrochemical ELISA for cancer research. Electrochemical ELISA combines the benefits of optical ELISA, such as multiplexing, sensitivity, and specificity, with the advantages of electrochemical detection, such as lower sample volume and faster timelines. Besides, improved detection and sensor surfaces have helped researchers shorten the experimental timeline.

Electrochemical sandwich ELISA identifies the target through its traditional sandwich systems while detecting it using the electrochemical method. This assay system involves three steps: immobilizing the biorecognition molecule, binding target analytes to the biorecognition molecule, followed by secondary recognition molecule binding to an electrochemically active signal tag. The generated assay signal is directly proportional to the concentration of analytes in the sample. The high specificity and sensitivity of sandwich electrochemical assays make them ideal for early-stage cancer detection.

In electrochemical ELISA assay, scientists can use different capturing and recognition molecules, including antibodies, peptides, nucleic acid sequences, DNA base sequences, aptamers, and bacteriophages. This system offers sensitive detection through various tags, such as quantum dots, metallic particles, and redox enzymes. 

Additionally, electrochemical sensors of ELISA work on the capturing molecule immobilized as well as the interaction with the target analyte. Hence, the current research is focused on identifying new capturing agents for sensitive analyte capture. In conclusion, cancer detection relies on robust and reliable ELISA-based immunoassays. Moreover, recent advances in biological engineering have paved the way to miniaturized ELISA assays with liquid-based dynamics, resulting in faster and cost-efficient testing of cancerous cells.

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