Diagnostic Assays, Reagents and Controls
Alpha Laboratories is a trusted supplier of clinical chemistry reagents to healthcare professionals in the UK.
We partner with leading manufacturers worldwide to provide products of the highest quality and outstanding value for in-vitro analysis of body fluids.
Alongside routine reagents we specialise in innovative new biomarkers and diagnostic areas that help improve patient care and reduce healthcare costs.
Blood, urine and faeces tests can reveal a plethora of information regarding general wellbeing, nutritional status, specific organ damage and disease toassist with the clinical diagnosis and monitoring of patient health.
Chemical Pathology or Clinical Biochemistry is the discipline that studies bodily fluids using a number of in vitro tests to provide clinicians with valuable information that can aid diagnosis. The use of certain biomarker screens can also be incorporated into testing regimes to exclude some patients from more invasive test procedures.
The blood serves to transport oxygen, nutrients and hormones around the body and to defend against bacteria and viruses. As such the levels of different proteins, antibodies and other analytes can provide information about how the body is functioning. Dehydration and malnutrition can be investigated by looking at electrolytes and albumin. Organ injury can be indicated by the presence of tissue specific enzymes and the a build up of waste products that are normally removed e.g. bilirubin and hyaluronic acid.
The majority of our clinical chemistry assays are designed to analyse samples from blood, either using plasma or serum. Plasma is prepared by collecting the blood into a vessel with an anticoagulant such as EDTA to prevent clotting and then spinning in a centrifuge so that the blood cells are collected at the bottom of the tube. The plasma, the yellow liquid supernatant, is then drawn off for testing.
Alternatively the blood can be collected without anticoagulant and allowed to clot before spinning in a centrifuge to separate the cells and liquid serum. Unlike plasma, serum does not contain fibrinogen and certain clotting factors.
Urine and stool samples are also important as these routes of elimination can also provide valuable information. The kidneys filter blood and retain and reabsorb proteins, but when function is impaired protein may be excreted in the urine; detection of urine proteins can help diagnosis kidney diseases or monitor function in chronic conditions such as diabetes or hypertension.
Whilst measurement of CRP in the blood can indicate inflammation it will not specify which tissues are involved as blood circulates throughout the body. However measurement of the inflammation marker Calprotectin in stool samples gives information specifically about the bowel and as such can be used as a screening test to help distinguish between patients with functional disorders such as Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and those with suspected inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as ulcerative colitis.