Modern Techniques in Immunology and Immunochemistry, Biology tutorial


The development of new techniques in field of immunology and immunochemistry has led to detailed and critical understanding of immune system and their response to pathogens. Several years back, scientists' comprehension of immune response system was confined to visual examination of living cells of blood samples through microscope.

Recent Techniques in Immunology:

Reliance of scientists on new and improved tools and methods to assist their proper understanding of immune system can't be overstated, and in fact it is attributed to be main cause for advancements in technology. Cell based assays have been enhanced tremendously to be able to estimate multiple cytokines level concurrently, and also cytotoxic T cells against infected targets in humans. This development allows researchers to know if T cells identify epitopes to activate them. Development of tetramer technology that comprises of four HLA molecules of same type bound to the peptide, has helped to give reagents essential to recognize specific T cells. Hence, no need for use of antigen stimulation to detect antigen specific T cells. Monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies are also being improved to improve detection of antibodies, particularly in combination with western blotting. Culture systems required to produce large quantities of specific antibodies are also being enhanced. Separation techniques required to separate the required cell from mixture have also benefited from the advancements. Antibodies can be joined to the chromatography column and then utilized to bind cell carrying antigen identified by specific antibody. Another separation method, called as magnetic attraction, comprises bonding antibodies specific for particular cell target to magnetic particles. Flow cytometers which is a type of cell separation techniques, involves tagging of antibodies with fluorescent labels, which are then recognized and sorted out with the help of flow cytometer. This method assists to eradicate several separate runs required to measure more than one parameter, as it's a parametric method.

Recent Techniques in Immunochemistry:

Immunochemistry is the branch of chemistry which studies reactions and components of the immune system, therefore any advancements in immunology certainly impacts immunochemistry. Different methods in immunochemistry are being refined, developed and utilized in scientific study. Like immunology, immunoassays are being altered to help quantify specific substances through formation of antigen-antibody complex. Antibody is labeled with enzyme, radioisotope or fluorescent dye to allow detection and separation. Another method is western blotting, also called as immunoblotting that helps to analyze soluble antigens in the mixture, through resolution of gel electrophoresis. Immunochemistry is also studied from feature of using antibodies to label epitopes of interest in cells and tissues. Use of enzyme labels instead of dyes opened door to technological advancements in immunochemistry. Development of EPOS (Enhanced polymer one step) system, allows the complete immunochemical staining process, from primary antibody to enzyme to be achieved within single step, compared to broadly use of streptavidin-biotin method, which is complex and related with frequent background staining. Rolling circle amplification, signal amplification system, which generates the local signal via extension and amplification of the oligonucleotide tail, was developed for detection of nucleic acid. Though, its application in immunochemistry is very helpful in detection of variety of cell surface and intracellular molecules.

Different methods highlighted are not without their weaknesses, and as a result much study is still being performed to tackle these differences and also to delve in more complicated areas, that are yet to attain any important improvements. Use of vaccines to counter effect of HIV is of much interest to scientific society, particularly since human genome project has been effectively completed. Also of significance in immunology is identification of epitopes which are identified by T cells, the portions of specified proteins bound by HLA molecules presented to T cells and ultimately identified by lymphocytes. In fact, identification, optimization and analysis of epitopes are areas of intense study in immunology.

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