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A quantitative immunochromatographic assay was developed for rapid and low-cost quantitation of CA 19–9 in human plasma.The developed assay had good sensitivity with a detection limit of 5 U mL−1 CA 19–9.The assay was applied to detect CA 19–9 in healthy and pancreatic cancer patient plasma with satisfactory results.A quantitative immunochromatographic assay (QIA) was developed by using gold nanoparticle (GNP)-based lateral flow strip biosensor (LFSB) and a portable strip reader for rapid and sensitive quantitation of Carbohydrate Antigen 19–9 (CA 19–9) in human plasma. CA 19–9 is a biomarker that has been associated with cancers (such as pancreatic and colorectal cancers) and various non-cancerous diseases. The principle is based on sandwich-type immunoreactions between gold nanoparticle (GNP)-labelled detection antibody, anti-CA 19–9 capture antibody and CA 19–9to capture the GNPs on the test zone of LFSB. The accumulation of GNPs on the test zone gave a red line whose intensity was read with a portable strip reader to quantify the concentration of CA 19–9. Assay parameters including the membrane type, antibody concentration, amount of GNP-anti-CA 19–9 conjugates and the components of the running buffer were optimized to obtain the best sensitivity and reproducibility of the assay. The detection limit of the assay was determined to be 5 U mL−1 (S/N = 3) with a linear range of 5 U mL−1–100 U mL−1. CA 19–9 concentrations in healthy human and pancreatic cancer patient plasma samples were successfully evaluated using the developed quantitative immunochromatographic assay (QIA), and the results were in accordance with that obtained with enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The developed assay shows great promise for clinical application and biomedical diagnosis, particularly in limited resource settings.