Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Radioimmunoassay is a scientific method used to test hormone levels in the blood without the need to use a bioassay. It involves mixing a radioactive antigen (frequently labelled with isotopes of iodine attached to tyrosine) with antibody to that antigen, then adding unlabeled or "cold" antigen in known quantities and measuring the amount of labeled antigen displaced.
Initially, the radioactive antigen is bound to the antibodies. When cold antigen is added, the two compete for antibody binding sites - and at higher concentrations of cold antigen, more binds to the antibody, displacing the radioactive variant. The bound antigens are separated from the unbound ones in solution and the radioactivity of each used to plot a binding curve .
The technique is both extremely sensitive, and specific, if costly, and it is especially useful in diagnosing and treating autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.
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