Why Are In-Vitro Diagnostics Important?

For medical professionals and the medical industry, in-vitro diagnostics (IVD) are key to helping care for the human body. Why are in-vitro diagnostics important? With in-vitro diagnostics driving an astounding 66% of medical decision-making, it’s clear that these diagnostic tests are an indispensable tool in the fight against diseases. Whether it’s infectious diseases or genetic predispositions, such tests provide health systems with the essential data they need.

Since 1998, Polymer Science has worked alongside medical device manufacturers and suppliers to design and engineer P-DERM® coatings, tapes, and adhesives to improve the efficacy of IVD testing and diagnostics. As medicine advances, in-vitro diagnostics products and in-vitro diagnostic tests will continue to improve with proven materials and emerging technologies.

The Evolution of In-Vitro Diagnostics: A Glimpse Through Time

In-vitro diagnostics have become ubiquitous with daily life, but the journey of IVD is incredibly interesting. Nearly every advancement in fields like biochemistry, immunology, and molecular biology is profoundly intertwined with breakthroughs in the IVD industry.

Before the 20th Century: The Birth of Microbiological Microscopy

The invention of the microscope marked a pivotal moment in medical history. This revolutionary tool brought about traditional microbiological microscopy-based inspection methods. For the first time, scientists could see microorganisms, setting the stage for groundbreaking discoveries in the understanding of diseases and their causes. Even the name in-vitro harkens to glass that made the technology possible.

Early 20th Century: Laying the Foundation with Biochemical and Immunological Diagnosis

Arguably, modern medicine began a rapid transformation at the start of the 20th century as communication between medical professionals worldwide improved. Two critical discoveries during this period laid the foundation for the IVD industry.

The first was the understanding of enzyme-catalyzed reactions, and the second was the antigen-antibody reactions. These findings paved the way for biochemical and immunological diagnosis, giving birth to the concept of in-vitro diagnosis. This era was defined by the fusion of knowledge, bringing together the essence of biochemistry and immunology.

1950s Onwards: The Golden Age of Molecular Diagnostics

The post-war era transformed many industries including in-vitro diagnostics. The discovery of the DNA double helix structure by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953, combined with innovations like monoclonal antibody technology and giant molecule labeling technology, propelled the rise of molecular diagnostics.

From 1950 to 1970, the foundation of the IVD industry took shape. During the 1970s, advancements occurred at an unprecedented pace and became familiar beyond hospitals and labs and into many homes. The first at-home pregnancy test was approved by the FDA in 1976. The idea of home blood glucose monitoring began in the same decade with the Dextrostix. By 1980, the Dextrometer helped patients manage blood glucose monitoring without the need for medical professionals or visiting a clinical practice.

Since 1980, alongside advancements in genetic testing and the evolution of precision medicine, the IVD industry has continually pushed the boundaries of what’s possible in medical diagnostics. In the late 1980s, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology enabled DNA amplification and revolutionized molecular diagnostics.

In the 1990s microarrays allowed for the simultaneous analysis of thousands of genetic markers, propelling genomics in IVD.

In 2001, the Human Genome Project broke new ground and introduced an era where IVD both helped democratize and personalized medicine. Essential in-vitro diagnostics accelerated treatments and therapies for HIV, cancer, and many more diseases. Access to point-of-care-testing (POCT) devices allows for rapid diagnosis outside of traditional laboratory settings. High-throughput genomic sequencing enables scientists to read hundreds of millions of DNA fragments and generate more data, with less time and costs than ever before.

The Critical Role of IVD in Today’s Global Health

Today, in vitro diagnostic (IVD) products are more than just tools; they’re a cornerstone of medical practice. By allowing the collection and analysis of human samples like blood, saliva, and tissue, they offer insights into countless health conditions. While the most familiar diagnostic tests like home pregnancy tests may be taken for granted by most consumers, others, like those used for select cancer therapies, require sophisticated clinical laboratories.

A few examples demonstrate the diverse range:

  1. Blood Glucose Meters: Portable devices for diabetics to monitor blood sugar levels.
  2. Hemoglobin A1c Tests: Measures average blood glucose over the past 2-3 months, used for diabetes diagnosis and management.
  3. Pregnancy Test Kits: Over-the-counter kits detect human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in urine.
  4. Rapid Strep Tests: Determine the presence of streptococcus bacteria in throat infections.
  5. Blood Gas Analyzers: Assess lung function and acid-base balance by measuring gasses and pH in blood.
  6. Flow Cytometers: Analyze blood cell populations, often used in cancer diagnosis.
  7. Bilirubinometers: Measure bilirubin in newborns to assess for jaundice.
  8. Coagulometers: Evaluate blood clotting ability, important for patients with clotting disorders or on anticoagulant therapy.
  9. ELISA Kits: Detect antibodies or antigens in a sample, commonly used for HIV testing.
  10. Troponin Tests: Detect troponin in blood to identify potential heart damage, like heart attacks.
  11. Microarrays: Silicon chips detecting gene expression or genetic mutations.
  12. PCR Tests: Amplify DNA to detect pathogens, including tests for COVID-19 and other diseases.

This last example makes clear how in-vitro diagnostics helped the world throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. The unprecedented global health crisis threw the spotlight on the indispensable role of in-vitro diagnostics (IVD). Amid the chaos and challenges of the pandemic, IVD tools proved invaluable in monitoring viral surges and understanding the spread of the virus. By providing real-time data on infection rates, these diagnostic tests allowed governments worldwide to make more informed decisions, striking a crucial balance between safeguarding public health and ensuring the continued functioning of businesses and economies.

Furthermore, IVD tests play a pivotal role in determining the efficacy of public health measures and interventions. By enabling the accurate tracking of COVID-19 cases, IVD tools empowered governments to implement, adjust, or ease restrictions when necessary. As a result, businesses could operate, albeit under adjusted circumstances, without jeopardizing the health of communities.

How Manufacturers of In-Vitro Diagnostics Partner with Experienced Partners to Innovate

The horizon of in-vitro diagnostics is expansive and filled with potential. As global demand shifts towards precision medicine and the emphasis on enhanced patient outcomes intensifies, the role of IVD is set to grow exponentially. This evolution will undoubtedly be fueled by technological advancements, giving rise to even more refined IVD tools that will lay the foundation for innovative treatments and therapeutic approaches.

However, manufacturers in the IVD industry face a dual-edged sword: a landscape replete with challenges yet brimming with opportunities. To navigate this complex terrain and drive innovation, partnering with experienced partners with specialized knowledge and solutions tailored for the IVD sector is key.

Polymer Science, a stalwart in this realm, is one such partner. With our P-DERM® Medical materials, we craft solutions for the unique demands of the IVD sector. Polymer Science delivers a collaborative approach for IVD manufacturers, ensuring that the future of diagnostics is not just promising, but luminous.