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The Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay (ELISA) uses antibodies to detect the presence of specific biomolecules (i.e. peptides, proteins, and hormones) in a complex sample. Today, we use the ELISA in many fields, including medical diagnostics, forensic science, and in quality control of foods.


Antibodies (also called immunoglobulins, or Igs) are specialized proteins that allow the immune system to distinguish between molecules that are either “self” and “non-self.” Each antibody is highly specific and only recognizes one epitope (a particular location within a foreign substance). Because of their specificity, scientists frequently use antibodies as powerful tools to detect specific molecules in biological samples.

In the early 1960s, Rosalyn Yalow and Solomon Berson developed an assay that used radioactivity to detect the interactions between antibodies and their target molecules (or antibody generators, shortened to antigen or Ag). While this test revolutionized medical research, high levels of radioactivity can be hazardous to human health. In 1971, Peter Perlmann and Eva Engvall in Sweden, and Anton Schuurs and Bauke van Weemen in the Netherlands, independently linked antibodies to enzymes so that they could use colors (chromogenic reporter) or light (fluorescent reporter) to detect antigens. This innovation allowed researchers to quickly detect the smallest amount of antigen present in a sample without using radioactivity.

Edvotek Livestream Demonstrations

Edvotek® YouTube Livestream - MyLab™ #1219 Simulating the COVID-19 Antibody Test - Watch as Dr. Danielle Snowflack discusses one of EDVOTEK's most popular MyLab™ experiments! She will be demonstrating our simulated COVID-19 Antibody Test from start to finish – get great results in less than 20 minutes!

Edvotek at Home

"Edvotek at Home" is a set of resources to teach the basics of Edvotek’s labs through worksheets and presentations. While we believe in the importance of hands-on learning, these free online learning tools are ideal if you can not perform the hands-on experiments in class. Each set includes a student sheet, an instructor’s guide, and an accompanying powerpoint presentation and results sheet. This resource is provided in a downloadable zipped folder below.

The ELISA Assay - The Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay, or ELISA, is a sensitive laboratory technique that uses antibodies to detect the presence of specific molecules (i.e. peptides, proteins, or hormones) in a complex sample. These samples can be single proteins or complex mixtures like cellular lysates. The ELISA is commonly used for medical diagnostics, as it can identify antigens in blood and other biological samples. In this experiment, students will master the experimental concepts and methodology involved with a quantitative ELISA.

Lesson Plans

Using EDVO-Kit #271 to Simulate Immunoassay Testing for COVID-19 Infection - The Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay, or ELISA, can be used to detect the presence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in patient samples. By using this assay, healthcare professionals and researchers will be able to better calculate the number of individuals affected by this disease. This lesson plan includes directions on how to adapt Edvo-Kit #271 to simulate testing for SARS-CoV-2. Please note that this is a simulation for educational purposes.

Outbreak! Learning About Zika Virus and Testing - In this lesson, students will explore transmission and diagnosis of infectious diseases using the Zika outbreak as a model. First, students will use a simple model to simulate the spread of an infectious disease through a population. Next, they will use the Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) to test patient samples for Zika. The results will be summarized in a laboratory report.


These short courses couple theory with active experimentation to help you update your skills and knowledge in various areas of biotechnology.

What's In My Lunch? Using Biotechnology to Detect GMOS's and Common Allergens - Biotech got its first break with the domestication of animals and plants and the use of microorganisms to make cheese, bread, beer, and wine. We want to bring the field back to these rich roots with two of our most delectable experiments! Learn how to use an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to detect common food allergens. Next, identify foods containing GMOs by separating amplified DNA using gel electrophoresis

Detecting the Silent Killer: Clinical Detection of Diabetes - Over 380 million people worldwide are afflicted by diabetes, a disease that causes high blood sugar. Due to genetic predisposition and high-calorie, low-activity lifestyles, that number continues to grow. Without early treatment, diabetes causes severe medical complications. In this exploration, you will diagnose diabetes using simulated urinalysis and ELISA tests.

Outbreak! Zika Testing Using the Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) - The spread of Zika virus has led to a public health crisis in the Americas. While most infections are mild, the virus can contribute to birth defects and neurological problems. In this workshop, you will perform a quick easy ELISA that simulates Zika testing.

Diagnosing the Flu - The yearly seasonal flu epidemic is caused by the Influenzavirus. As a general rule, symptoms of the flu are enough to warrant its diagnosis during flu season. However, further testing may be necessary to rule out serious conditions like pneumonia. In this simulation, two common tests (ELISA, RT-PCR) are performed to diagnose the flu in a clinical setting.

Additional Resources

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