Introduction to Immunochemistry and Immunochemistry Devices

Introduction to Immunochemistry and Immunochemistry Devices

Immunochemistry is a branch of chemistry that revolves around the immune system. As such, immunochemistry diagnostic devices are crucial in the diagnosis, analysis, and control of diseases. Immunoassay equipment and other devices play a vital role in laboratory and commercial testing. As the field of immunochemistry continues to evolve, new devices and techniques allow medical professionals to learn more about how the immune system functions and interacts with specific proteins, antigens, and antibodies.

Studying the immune system and warding off diseases go hand in hand. As such, immunochemistry device development is an invaluable process for professionals in the medical field. Learn more about immunochemistry’s branches and applications with this introduction to immunochemistry and immunochemistry devices.

Why Study Immunochemistry?

Researchers in the immunochemistry field study the components and functions of the immune system. They also explore the nature and interactions of proteins, antigens, and antibodies to learn how these components work within the immune system. By studying and analyzing these factors, physicians can better diagnose diseases and conditions that affect the human body.

The field of immunochemistry dates back hundreds of years. Contributions to the field include some of humanity’s most significant medical discoveries, such as Edward Jenner’s smallpox vaccine in 1790 and Emil von Behring’s 1890 discovery of serum antibodies that cure diphtheria and tetanus. Another early example of immunochemistry is the Wasserman test, a blood test developed in 1906 that detected syphilis through the study of an antigen-antibody reaction.

Introduction to Immunohistochemistry and Immunocytochemistry

Today, some of the most crucial applications of immunochemistry take the form of immunohistochemistry and immunocytochemistry techniques. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) and Immunocytochemistry (ICC) are the most common applications of immunostaining used to visualize the expression and localization of specific antigens using antibodies. IHC is concerned with labeling tissue, whereas ICC is used to identify specific proteins or antigens in cells.

What Is Immunohistochemistry?

Immunohistochemistry (IHC) is an immunostaining technique used to identify specific antigens within a section of tissue or cells using antibodies. When specific antibodies are introduced to an antigen within a biological tissue sample, the antibodies bind to the antigen. Such interactions can be detected by staining the section of tissue with enzymes such as peroxidase or alkaline phosphatase to catalyze the conversion of a chromogenic or chemiluminescent substrate allowing the detection, distribution, and localization of specific components within the tissue. Immunohistochemistry allows researchers to preserve the original structure of the tissue so that that the cells are arranged just as they would be within a body. Consequently, researchers performing IHC techniques can study components beyond the cells themselves, such as proteins and carbohydrates, as well as nucleic acids.

What Is Immunocytochemistry?

Like IHC, immunocytochemistry (ICC) enables the detection and visualization of proteins, or other antigens, in cells using antibodies specifically recognizing the target of interest.  However, unlike IHC which uses intact tissue sections, ICC uses cultured cells or individual cells rather than biological tissue samples. In ICC the staining technique is applied on cultured cells or individual cells that have been isolated from blood smears, swabs, aspirates or more commonly, cultured cells grown in monolayers, usually on sterile glass coverslips, a primary antibody binds to a specific protein or antigen within the cells. Once bound, the antigen or protein can be observed under a microscope. This way, researchers can determine whether the target of interest is present in the cell sample, thus aiding in diagnostic processes. If the antigen is present, researchers can gain further information by determining sub-cellular compartments are expressing the antigen or protein. For example, ICC can be used in the diagnosis of diseases such as differences between different cancer types.

As mentioned, ICC samples consist of cultured cells or cell suspensions. With such cells most, if not all, of the extracellular matrix and other stromal components are removed, leaving only whole cells. This enables researchers to study specific properties of individual cells, allowing for a more sensitive assessment of the distribution of expression of a particular antigen throughout the culture under specific culture conditions.

Applications of IHC and ICC

Both immunohistochemistry and immunocytochemistry are invaluable techniques across a variety of medical fields. For example, one use of IHC is to examine the expression of oncogenes in mouse models. The visibility of antibody-antigen reactions allows scientists to detect abnormalities and the proteins that cause them within tissues and cells, making these techniques invaluable in the field of disease diagnosis. For example, some tumor markers can help researchers detect and analyze abnormal cells of a tumor. By examining the abnormalities with IHC or ICC techniques, physicians can learn critical information, such as whether a tumor is benign or malignant, what stage it is in, and where the primary tumor is within the body.

Beyond diagnosis, IHC and ICC are useful in drug development and research. With controlled samples, scientists can analyze the effectiveness of different medications. The immunostaining techniques make it easy to see antigens or other disease markers go up or down in response to various treatments. Additionally, scientists can use IHC and ICC techniques to look for adverse effects within the cell or tissue samples.

Finally, both IHC and ICC aid in various aspects of biological research. These tests allow researchers to examine normal tissue and cell function. This information aids in analysis and research regarding wound healing, cell death and repair, and more.

Immunoassay Uses, Development, and Trends

Immunoassays are the biochemical tests that power immunochemistry, making them a crucial part of any immunochemistry devices. Immunoassays play a pivotal role in detecting and analyzing specific target molecules—in this case, antigens within a cell or tissue sample—which means they must provide rapid and accurate results. As such, immunoassays and immunochemistry device developers strive to create complex yet reliable instrumentation that allows researchers and healthcare professionals access to accurate and actionable sample data.

Due to the immense responsibility these devices carry, commercial product developers must comply with stringent standards set forth by the FDA and other regulatory bodies. Many months, sometimes years, of design, development, testing, and validation go into every new device that reaches the market. This time-consuming process ensures that immunoassays are safe, functional, and useful to researchers performing critical work.

Currently, many immunochemistry device developers are attempting to further improve immunoassays and other products through innovations such as automated immunoassay systems. Automation in diagnostic devices increases capabilities and allows for a higher testing volume. Such advancements would make immunoassays even more efficient and useful for researchers and care providers.

Like all fields of science and medicine, immunochemistry involves crucial work that requires crucial equipment. If you want to take your immunochemistry device to market, you need a contract manufacturer that follows best operational practices, stays on top of industry trends and has proven expertise and experience in your field. That’s why Gener8 is recognized as a top choice among many medical and biotech companies. With extensive resources and years of experience, Gener8 provides industry-leading services for the design, development, and manufacture of instruments as well as their associated consumables. With a unique blend of strong and complete engineering and manufacturing services, Gener8 will de-risk the product development program to increase your likelihood of achieving commercial success. Contact Gener8 today to schedule a call for your next product development project.

Posted in