This direct detection has many advantages over traditional detection technologies, the chief among them the screening of protein-protein interactions, which are otherwise a major challenge.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (technicalinsights.frost.com), Advances in Label-free Detection Technologies, finds that large pharmaceutical and biotech companies are showing increasing interest in the technology.
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Many problems are overcome just by the absence of labels, as they tend to alter the molecules under study, which in turn affects the binding or physicochemical properties. With label-free detection, there is lower interference from compound autofluorescence and color quenching, leading to fewer false positives and negatives. It also does away with the problems cropping up from the secondary detection of auxiliary reagents.
Label-free assays enable the use of natural ligands and substrates, something the label-based assays are unable to support. Besides, label-free technologies help avoid the use of radioactive labels, thereby enhancing lab safety and contributing to cost savings, as there are no radioactive waste disposal costs.
Currently, lack of robust, quality assays for target screening and validation leads to a high 25 percent of targets being ignored. However, label-free technology offers an option to screen the high proportion of orphaned targets, mostly protein-protein interactions. This can be used as a selling point, especially to those pharmaceutical and biotech companies that investigate orphaned targets.
For all its inherent advantages, the high costs of label-free technology can be a restraint to its adoption. Not only are the instruments costly, being priced above $200,000, the cost of the consumables is also high. The fact that the technology is fairly new could also act as a deterrent.
"Probably one of the biggest restraining factors inhibiting the widespread adoption of label-free detection and screening is the overbearing cost of the equipment, which requires capital investment," notes Frost & Sullivan Technical Insights Research Analyst Rasika Ramachandran. "This is compounded by the fact that it is still a budding technology for which the drug discovery customers might not be willing to pay the big buck."
The consumables include Society for Biomolecular Sciences (SBS)-standard microtiter plates embedded with sensors in every well. The sensors are expensive and make this technology costly, especially for academics and specialty pharmaceutical companies that depend on private and venture funding. Larger pharmaceutical and biotech companies with good funding might, however, be able to afford this technology.
"As this is a nascent technology, label-free technology providers can form partnerships with small biotech firms, whereby the technology can be provided at a discounted rate," notes Ramachandran. "The biotech will benefit from the use of a robust new technology, while the label-free company, in addition to the revenues that such a partnership will bring, can use the results obtained through field studies to fine-tune its technology."
Advances in Label-free Detection Technologies, a part of the Technical Insights subscription, provides a technology overview and outlook for the analysis of the label-free technology industry for biomolecular interaction analysis, from a technological and application perspective. Further, this research service includes detailed technology analysis and industry trends evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants. Interviews with the press are available.
Technical Insights is an international technology analysis business that produces a variety of technical news alerts, newsletters, and research services.
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Advances in Label-free Detection Technologies - D12D-55