Nucleic acids are used as important biomarkers for biological studies and medical diagnostics, as well as as high-affinity recognition molecules for ions, small molecules, proteins, and cells. The aim of nucleic acid detection is to identify or quantify specific nucleic acid sequences. Nucleic acids are more likely to maintain integrity in harsh environments than proteins or living cells, and emission signals can be greatly enhanced by nucleic acid amplification. Traditional nucleic acid detection methods, such as gel electrophoresis, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and real-time polymerase chain reaction (real-time PCR), require well-trained operators and sophisticated equipment, and signal readout and detection often take several hours. With the increasing demand for research under limited resources, lateral flow assays (LFAs) for nucleic acid detection have been increasingly used because of its low cost and simple operation. In addition to nucleic acids, LFAs can be used to determine proteins and haptens. Nucleic acid LFAs are typically combined with isothermal amplification methods that do not require a thermal cycler. The complete testing process of LFA based on isothermal amplification can be implemented in a portable device within tens of minutes.
The principle of LFA is based on the movement of a liquid sample though a polymeric strip with attached molecules that interact with the analyte, providing a signal that can be visually detected. The typical architecture of LFA consists of an active porous membrane that drives sample flow and reagents by capillarity, a sample pad, a conjugation pad, and an absorbent pad. A recognition layer is fabricated onto the surface of the porous membrane, where test and control lines are confined in spatially defined zones. According to different detection methods, the LFAs can be classified into sandwich type and competitive type. The sandwich assays are more frequently used for nucleic acid test applications. According to the binding principle, LFAs can be divided into nucleic acid lateral flow (NALF) and nucleic acid lateral flow immunoassay (NALFIA). Both require specific primer modifications before nucleic acid amplification. NALF directly detects DNA exploiting capture and labelled reporter oligonucleotide probes, whereas NALFIA detects hapten-labelled DNA using capture and labelled reporter antibodies or streptavidin.
LFAs have been well established as a valuable tool in many fields, such as medical, veterinary, food, agriculture, and food safety. Continuous improvements in LFA techniques have increased sensitivity and reproducibility. Amerigo Scientific offers LFA products for nucleic acid detection that reduce the requirements for excessive equipment in resource-limited environments. The analytical process using these products is portable and can be completed in a short time.
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