Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How Accurate Are ELISA Test Kits?

What is an ELISA test?
Whether or not you've ever heard of an ELISA test, chances are you've crossed paths with one in your lifetime. Technically, the name stands for "enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay". In english that means it's a wet lab test where a wet lab sample (often blood or urine) are attached to a surface. An antibody for the substance is added and after it links to the enzyme a substrate is added and the test gives you a result - usually by changing colors. This basic process is laid out on the right.

What is it used for?

ELISA tests have a tremendous number of uses. They can be used as a screening for cancer, pregnancy tests, bacterial diseases, autoimmune diseases like HIV, as well as drug testing and steroid testing. If you've ever had to take a urine drug test for a job it's quite likely you've taken an ELISA test.

Outside of your direct personal health, ELISA kits are also used to detect the presence of allergens. These can be used in restaurants or other facilities where contamination with certain allergens like nuts can prove fatal for potential customers.

Accuracy is definitely important

Just reading through the preceding paragraphs you'll notice that many of the uses of ELISA tests are of vital importance. Whether it's passing a drug test to get a new position or making sure someone with a severe nut allergy doesn't die when they open a package of cookies, ELISA tests better work. While there isn't a tremendous amount of across the board research, most publications do recommend for things such as HIV diagnosis that there are at least three positive tests done with an ELISA test to confirm an HIV diagnosis. Simply googling results for ELISA test accuracy will show you a tremendous amount of results on highly specific testing and their specificity. Often times you will see numbers above 90%, but rarely anywhere near a six sigma number.

Why is this important? Because whether you're going in for a diagnosis or a drug test, there's the possibility of false positives and false negatives. If you are told you fail a drug test and know the type of test being performed, you can rightfully request a new test. Knowledge in this case is definitely power.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


English: Copenhagen City Hall in Copenhagen, D...

Many will know that I am constantly striving to find the place. A place that I feel some association to. A place where work, life, and culture blend together seamlessly. A place that I may like to live one day, or if I am wealthy enough buy second homes.

On arriving into Copenhagen, I had almost forgotten my subconscious mission as I have been slightly absorbed in making a permanent move to Manchester. A move that will likely see me in England until 2010, but who knows in the 21st Century?

Yet stepping off the train, as I made a connection to the City metro, my research was awakened. It did not take much, just two ladies cleaning a lamp post on the platform. An innovation in the UK, especially as both looked very happy in their work. They also looked like folk you could happily have an interesting conversation with over coffee.

Walking around the city I was drawn to the history of Copenhagen, classic European architecture and styling, but also the modernity and quality of shopping outlets, mixed with social spaces and University styled coffee houses, filled with students huddled around their computers and data devices.

I also learnt that the Danes are marked by modesty. They are not comfortable with stating their life, aren't concerned about career advice or successes, size of house, price of car, or next far flung holiday destination. This seems to diminish the sense of capitalism, and perhaps leads to more interesting conversation about family, people, and place. This culture, I would imagine, would fly against the threats to happiness (TV and capitalism) as cited in the presentation by Alexander Kjerulf at Reboot. I am not sure how seriously to take this, as capitalism has afforded me the opportunity to write this blog, but the reference is there.

I could continue writing, but I don’t think I could capture the one thing that attracted me to Copenhagen. I think the answer was in the subtleties of people and place. The following pictures capture the subtly:
Notice how the coffee cup doesn't have a gap. I think the barista is assuming that you will want to sit down and enjoy your drink, rather than rushing to the next thing.

This picture was genuinely taking at 9am on a Thursday morning. Traditionally a rush-hour time in most European cities. I felt more relaxed leaving the metro than I did boarding. I guess the next picture tells us why the metro is not perhaps as packed as it might be. Bicycle lanes line all of Copenhagen roads, which again are notably light in traffic.

And aside from the subtleties, Copenhagen simply struck me as an stunning place.

Given that European boundaries have now evaporated, we are free to live and work in any European state, perhaps there is now the option to move yourself to the place that you associate yourself with the most, and not necessarily the place you were born? Perhaps I need to set a five-year plan and move myself over there, although tax is high and cost of living is far from cheap.

Maybe, then, I look to date Helena Christensen who associates herself with Monaco, Manhattan, and Copenhagen (houses in all), and she even likes photography. Having said that, could I possibly take the chance of being dumped? That would be a hard break-up to take. Having said that, the pain could be eased by receiving the Copenhagen pad as a parting gift.