ELISA kits (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays) are simple, sensitive tests to detect and quantify antigens or antibodies in a liquid or wet sample such as sera, plasma, or cell lysate. ELISA’s main claim to fame is its ability to provide results quickly and accurately. The tests find wide use in research, as diagnostic tools in clinical applications (e.g., HIV or West Nile virus diagnosis), in the food industry to detect common food allergens, and drug screening in toxicology. There are four main ELISA types: direct; indirect; sandwich, which offers increased specificity; and the more complex competitive/inhibition format. Reagents including immunosorbent, conjugate, and substrate are used in the technique’s steps: coating, blocking unbound sites, detection, and plate reading in a spectrophotometer, fluorometer, or luminometer. Traditional ELISA relies on an observable change in color, but fluorogenic, electrochemiluminescent, and real-time PCR reporters can also be used.
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