In vitro diagnostics are used to run tests on samples such as blood, urine and tissue. This can then be used to determine the presence of an infection, to look for signs of disease or diagnose a medical condition, to monitor drug therapies, to look for deficiencies or for research purposes. The in vitro diagnostics market is currently valued at USD 60.22 billion and this is likely to grow at CAGR of 5.5% over the next few years. In other words, this is big business and it is likely to continue to be in the near future.
A 60.22 billion dollar industry with a projected CAGR of 5.5%, in vitro diagnostics is an area to watch and that offers promising investment opportunity.
It is understandable that this would be such an important industry and market. In vitro diagnostics provide a non-invasive way to see how medications and diseases act in human (or animal) tissue. They allow us to take a closer look at a person’s health and to provide better advice as a result.
In vitro diagnostics plays a critical role in more personalized medical treatments – which is quickly growing in popularity. For instance, a tumor may be removed and analysed in order to see which treatments it responds most positively too. This information can then be used to provide a patient with the best course of treatment with the optimal chance of recovery. This of course requires
We’re also seeing personalized recommendations for treatments based on DNA. This allows healthcare workers to look at the genetics of the patient and that way to identify the best treatments and options for them. This will use a swab or a sample, which may not be an example of in-vitro diagnostics but nevertheless will likely increase the demand for personalized and tailored treatments.
Finally, in-vitro tools are crucial for looking at how tissues react to drugs and other treatments. Cancer research and countless other research institutes and charities rely heavily on this technology.
An Example of In-Vitro Diagnostics: Staining
Understanding the role and process of in-vitro-diagnostics can be difficult for those not in the medical field. It may be useful then to consider one example of an in-vitro technology: staining in microscopy.
Staining is an important part of microscopy that allows you to increase the contrast in certain images so that you can view particular areas of a specimen more clearly. This then allows the viewing of bacteria for instance or other particular specimen and is useful in a lot of research and study. Staining is often used in biology and medicine so that structures can be highlighted in biological tissue. Particular forms of microscopes are often used in order to view these stains.
In Vivo or In Vitro?
First of all there is an important distinction to make between in vivo and in vitro staining. In vivo means the 'in life' and essentially then it is the process of dying living tissue. By making certain cells or structures take on highly contrasting hues it is possible to easily seen their form or position in the tissue. In vitro then of course is staining tissues that are no longer alive, which is what we are interested in here.
Staining is generally a complicated and scientific process. It is important to find substances that will react with the specific structures and substances that the examiner wishes to view. In some cases a second dye may be used to increase the contrast of a principle dye and make it more visible if it was not immediately.
Staining in microscopy is a technique that is generally associated with light microscopes that use light in order to view the specimen and then scatter this one beam to view it in more detail. However, it can also be used with an electron microscope in order to increase contrast in the same way and to highlight specific things at an even more microscopic level.
This should not be confused with the function of a fluorescence microscope which works in a different way again. A fluorescence microscope is essentially a microscope which uses no light source and instead the object itself is the light source. This is due to the fact that the specimen gives off its own light in the form of fluorescence or phospherescence and that can be used instead of, or as well as reflection or absorption. Here just a small amount of light is used in order to trigger the fluorescence in the sample so that it creates its own light. The use of a fluorescence microscope improves the signal to noise ratio.
Interestingly in some cases though this fluorescence itself will be caused by fluorescent stains in which case staining can go hand in hand with the use of a fluorescent microscope. In other cases though the sample will be intrinsically fluorescent (called autofluorescence) or it will be achieved through the expression of a fluorescent gene – which may be the result of genetic manipulation.
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The in-vitro diagnostics market is therefore made up of the tools, the facilities, the chemicals and more that are needed to make these kinds of techniques possible. This in turn allows for better treatments, more tailored medication and hopefully greater recovery rates.
As well as this, we’re also likely to see more in-vitro diagnostics in private healthcare clinics and in research environments.
And of course these technologies will only develop with time. Not only the tools, but the very procedures themselves and what we are capable of achieving by looking at human tissue and modifying it.
This is a huge booming market that is not going anywhere and that offers some great investment opportunities.