The immune system is formed by a complex network of organs, cells, large molecules, and small biochemicals: it operates as a unit to combat pathogens and maintain human health. Immunology is the study of the immune system. It is among the most rapidly advancing scientific sectors today, driven in part by the medical implications of developing research.
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Tecan strives to advance the field of immunology by providing assays that are suitable for investigating the many pathways of the immune system. To celebrate four decades of specialty diagnostics, Tecan presents its state-of-the-art immunology portfolio.
The immune system
The immune system is complex and, therefore, difficult to simplify concisely. However, it can be broadly categorized into two key branches: the innate and adaptive immune responses.
The innate immune response is the body’s initial line of defense: it provides rapid, non-specific protection mechanisms. Physical barriers (such as skin membranes and mucous) and cellular and inflammatory responses are examples of innate immune responses.
In contrast, the adaptive immune system is comprised of highly specific and specialized defense mechanisms that develop to become even more expansive as we age.
The adaptive immune system is split into cell- and antibody-mediated immune responses, which involve T cells and B cells, respectively. These pathways work together to ensure the health and survival of the body.
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Biomarkers: An essential element of modern medicine
To understand the immune system at a molecular and cellular level, numerous therapies, prognostic tools, and diagnostic markers have been developed for a variety of conditions.
Immune biomarkers have become ubiquitous within clinical practice. They provide a quantifiable, accurate, and reproducible assessment of numerous biological processes. Immune biomarkers are utilized in the diagnosis and treatment of many disorders—they can also detect the presence of a disease before symptoms arise.
Tecan offers assays that can quantify key biomarkers involved in the immune response—providing comprehensive insights into a patient’s immune system function. This is discussed further below.
High mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) is an important mediator of the immune response. An elevated HMGB1 level is indicative of a variety of conditions, from cancer and sepsis to arthritis and stroke.1
HMGB1 is a protein often found in cells: it has a significant role in stabilizing chromosome structure and controlling gene expression. Nevertheless, it is the extracellular activity of HMGB1 that has intrigued researchers for decades.
During cell stress, HMGB1 can be translocated and modified to the cytosol. It is then secreted into the extracellular space—where it acts as an alarm that triggers innate immune responses. This alarm is called a damage-associated molecular pattern, or DAMP.
Due to its important role in immune responses, HMGB1 is a key biomarker and an attractive target for many therapies.
Tecan’s HMGB1 Express enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) can quantify HMGB1 levels in human serum and plasma. It is CE-marked in Europe. This diagnostic test is considered the gold standard by many key opinion leaders,2 and its predecessor has been cited in over 1400 publications.
Neopterin is synthesized by macrophages in response to stimulation by the cytokine interferon-γ (which is released by activated T cells). Increased levels of Neopterin in the blood and urine are associated with a cellular immune response that precedes an antibody response. As a result, Neopterin is considered a universal biomarker.
Neopterin levels are proportionate to disease severity. Thus, neopterin could help clinicians identify the cause of symptoms early on.
Due to its crucial role in immune responses, Neopterin is a key biomarker: it is associated with numerous conditions, including viral and bacterial infections, allograft rejections, sarcoidosis, and autoimmune disorders.3
When it comes to narrowing down the potential cause of symptoms, Neopterin could serve as an important biomarker—it could also help confirm that urine and blood samples are pathogen-free. Evaluating Neopterin levels may lead to better-informed clinical decision-making.
Tecan’s Neopterin ELISA is suitable for quantifying Neopterin levels in human urine, plasma, and serum.
Interleukin-2 (IL-2) is a cytokine. It is an important signaling molecule in the human immune system, as it regulates white blood cell activity during an immune response. IL-2 is produced primarily by antigen-stimulated CD4+ T cells.
Activated antigen-stimulated CD4+ T cells secrete the soluble form of the interleukin-2 receptor (sIL-2R), which results in increased sIL-2R levels in the plasma or serums. This causes a variety of conditions in affected individuals, therefore, sIL-2R is considered an important analytical tool in the assessment of immune function.
Tecan’s sIL-2R ELISA can quantify human soluble sIL-2R in plasma and serum. This assay kit features ready-to-use reagents and can be performed quickly. This will help accelerate the research—which is critical as immunology is a dynamic field.
Like the majority of the Tecan specialty diagnostics range, these assays can be utilized manually for small-scale operations and academic research or automated on platforms like Tecan’s Freedom Evelyne® for high-throughput laboratories.
These assays are fundamental in Tecan’s immunology portfolio—which covers assays that investigate the innate and adaptive immune responses and provide comprehensive insights into immune function.
References and further reading
- Kang R. et al. HMGB1 in health and disease. Mol Aspects Med. 2014; 40:1-116. doi: 10.1016/j.mam.2014.05.001.
- Brück E. et al. Plasma HMGB1 levels and physical performance in ICU survivors. Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 2021;65(7):921-927. doi:10.1111/aas.13815.
- Hamerlinck, F. F. V. Neopterin : A Review. Exp. Dermatol. 1999, 8 (3), 167–176. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0625.1999.tb00367.x.
Tecan is a leading global provider of automated laboratory instruments and solutions. Its systems and components help people working in clinical diagnostics, basic and translational research and drug discovery bring their science to life.
In particular, the company develops, produces, markets and supports automated workflow solutions that empower laboratories to achieve more. Its Cavro branded instrument components are chosen by leading instrumentation suppliers across multiple disciplines.
Tecan works side by side with a range of clients, including diagnostic laboratories, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and university research centers. Its expertise extends to developing and manufacturing OEM instruments and components, marketed by its partner companies. Whatever the project – large or small, simple or complex – helping its clients to achieve their goals comes first.
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