A Luminex multiplex assay is a bead-based immunoassay that can simultaneously measure multiple analytes in a single sample run. Luminex assay employs microspheres that are internally dyed with distinct proportions of red and infrared fluorophores, each corresponding to a unique spectral signature. The use of biomarker and multiplex cytokine assays helps quantify multiple biomarkers and cytokines in biological samples. Luminex cytokine and biomarker assays are crucial in providing critical data about normal and diseased biological processes.
Evidently multiplex assays are very advantageous. By just using a minute amount of sample, researchers can study a wide spectrum of analyte profiles with high throughput and faster analysis. Biomarker testing, in particular, has greatly benefited from the emergence of Luminex multiplex assays. Following are the top three advantages and drawbacks of Luminex multiplex assay services for biomarker testing.
Top 3 advantages of Luminex multiplex assay
Beneficial in a limited sample material
Researchers study biomarkers in many biological samples including, cell lysates, cell culture supernatant, serum, plasma, saliva, urine, cerebrospinal fluid, etc. These samples are often difficult to obtain and are available in lesser quantities. Hence, multiplexing biomarker analysis becomes critical to gain as much knowledge as possible from limited study samples.
Making multiplexing easy and achievable
Developing a multiplexing assay is inherently challenging as the assay must perform simultaneous analyte detection.Hence it is increasingly becoming a common practice to employ commercially developed multiplex assays. Luminex is one such assay that facilitates the detection of up to 500 targets in one well. Luminex offers several assay kits covering various therapeutic areas of biomarker research. Moreover, for therapeutic areas where kits are not available, Luminex offers LuminexPLORE Lab for custom and rapid development of multiplex assays.
Performs well in high volumes of data
Multiplexing can generate a ton of study data which after some time can become overwhelming to analyze. Luminex has efficient software available for processing the sheer volume of generated data. Such sophisticated software can acquire and organize data to enable visualization in real-time.
Top 3 drawbacks of Luminex multiplex assays
Standard curve anchor points
Luminex assays have a broad range of calibration standards compared to traditional elisa assay validation. It accommodates analyte concentrations with wide ranges and helps determine quality controls and standard curves for each analyte. However, it is crucial to understand that standard curve anchor points of one analyte are not transferable to another analyte standard.
Transferring single analyte ELISA in a Luminex format is straightforward and sometimes needs an additional plate for the washing step. But because of its multiplexing capabilities, if several ELISA’s are combined and transferred to a Luminex platform, additional studies may be required to optimize the assay parameters. These added studies will likely increase the overall assay development time.
Upper limit problem
Some studies suggest that comparing Luminex assays performed using different kits at varying times may not be possible. Particularly with the upper limits of quantification, using different kits does not provide similar results for individual analytes. If the determination of the analyte concentration changes, it would counter the observed changes in the concentration of the analyte of interest.
To conclude, Luminex multiplex assays are a few of the best platforms available for testing a wide range of analytes. It becomes more significant when broadly analyzing serum biomarkers.