Glossary A - E
ACB - Association of Clinical Biochemistry
Analyte - The chemical substance being measured in an assay, usually contained in blood or other body fluids.
Antibody - A protein produced by our body in response to an antigen. There are 5 classes of antibodies (IgG, IgM, IgE, IgA, IgD). The antibody binds to and neutralises the antigen.
Antigen - Antigens are usually foreign substances which enter the body and trigger the immune system to produce antibodies in order to fight off the potential infection. Antigens can be toxins, foreign blood cells, bacteria or the cells of transplanted organs.
Assay - A diagnostic test to measure the concentration or level of a particular analyte.
Biochemistry - Biochemistry is the study of the chemical structures and vital processes which occur in living organisms. Biochemists study the compounds in the body and how these result in chemical processes. They seek to understand such processes both within healthy and unhealthy organisms.
Biotechnology - As the name suggests, this field of study is a combination of biology and technology. It is primarily concerned with the technical exploitation of biological processes. Through microbiological or biochemical techniques, cell cultures, microorganisms or enzymes are used to activate targeted metabolic processes. Used in conjunction with genetic engineering, biotechnology can be used to program certain microorganisms to perform specific tasks.
Clinical Chemistry - This field deals with analysing blood, urine and other body fluids. Their constituents i.e. proteins and enzymes are determined. The results from this analysis is used as a basis for patient diagnosis.
Cultures - Bacteria grown from a sample.
Cytopathology/histopathology - The study of tissue samples of patients to detect diseases.
Disease Marker - A disease marker is any serum component which rises or falls outside its normal range in response to disease.
Distributor - A company that sells products on behalf of other companies who do not have a base in the UK.
ELISA - Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay. A sample containing an unknown amount of antigen is immobilised on the surface of a micro titre plate. An enzyme labelled antibody specific to the antigen of interest is added and forms a complex with the antigen, a series of washes are then carried out to remove any proteins or antibodies that are not specifically bound. Finally the substrate is added and converted to visible signal which corresponds directly to the quantity of antigen in the sample.
Glossary F - J
Genetics - Genetics is the study of heredity, for example the passing of characteristics such as eye colour and even the transmission of genetic diseases. This enables scientists to further understand such diseases and therefore potentially improve diagnostic and treatment options. There are many different types of genetics including classical genetics, clinical genetics, forensic genetics and pharmacogenetics.
Genomics - Genomics is the study of genes and their functions. It is interested in the structure of the genome, which carries all the genetic material, like a blueprint. Genomics studies how molecular mechanisms and genetic factors affect disease.
Haematology - The study of blood and its components. Blood is an important transport mechanism for essential nutrients. Haematology studies disorders associated with blood such as coagulation.
Haemoglobin - The protein in the centre of a red blood cell (erythrocyte), that is responsible for binding and delivering oxygen to the body. It also gives blood its red colour.
IBMS - Institute of Biomedical Science
Immunoassay - An assay that makes use of the affinity of an antibody to a particular antigen. Specific antigens and antibodies in the body can be indicators of specific diseases or disorders. An immunoassay test gathers information on the quantity of these antigens and antibodies.
Immunochemistry - A part of immunology, immunochemistry looks into the chemical detection of immune reactions.
Immunology - The study of all aspects of the immune system and its components, including disorders.
In Vitro Diagnostics (IVD) - A diagnostic test which analyses something taken from the body. E.g. blood, urine, sputum etc.
In Vivo Diagnostics - A diagnostic test which analyses a living being.
Glossary K - O
MedTech Europe - European Diagnostics Manufacturers Association
Microarray - Microarrays consist of many probes attached chemically to a substrate with a very small surface. This surface could be a glass slide or a microchip. Each probe, which holds genetic information, can detect many different genes at the same time. Microarrays can be used to assist in the detection of genetic variations.
Microbiology - The study of microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses and parasites.
Molecular Biology - Molecular Biology is the study of biology on a molecular level. It examines the structure and function of biologically important molecules within an organism in order to study viruses. It also encompasses biochemistry and genetics.
NPT - Near Patient Testing – Another way to say POCT, see below.
OEM - Other Equipment Manufacturer: Products manufactured by a supplier which is then sold under another company’s name.
Oncology - This field of medicine examines tumours and cancerous conditions and the subsequent treatment options as well as diagnosis.
Glossary P - Z
Pathogen - A specific causative agent of disease such as bacterium, virus or chemical etc.
Precision Medicine (also known as personalised medicine or stratified medicine) - This describes a treatment which requires a diagnostic test to be performed before the treatment is given. Often used in cancer treatment but can be applied to many different disease area.
Pharmacogenomics - The study of genetic variation and the effect it has on the action of drugs.
POCT - Point of Care Test. A diagnostic test that is quick and easy to perform and is used during a patient consultation or can be completed while the patient waits allowing immediate diagnosis and treatment choice.
QALY - Quality Adjusted Life Year - A measure of disease burden, including both the quality and the quantity of life lived. It is used in assessing the value for money of a medical intervention.
Random Access - Random access refers to the capability of an analyser to perform any requested test in any sequence.
RCPath - Royal College of Pathologists
Reagents - The chemical solutions used by laboratories to perform the testing.
Recombinant Protein - A protein created by artificially inducing a DNA sequence into a living cell.
Screening - Screening is conducted to detect diseases and conditions at an early stage within an at-risk group. Its main aim is to identify those individuals who have disease-causing pathogens in their system and thus initiate effective treatment as quickly as possible.