© 2024 WFAE

Mailing Address:
WFAE 90.7
P.O. Box 896890
Charlotte, NC 28289-6890
Tax ID: 56-1803808
90.7 Charlotte 93.7 Southern Pines 90.3 Hickory 106.1 Laurinburg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Famed Medical Test 'ELISA' Celebrates Its 35th

Eva Engvall is one of the scientists who invented the ELISA test in 1971. She is shown at her home near Buellton, Calif. Engvall is currently a professor at the Burnham Institute in La Jolla, Calif.
Joe Palca, NPR
Eva Engvall is one of the scientists who invented the ELISA test in 1971. She is shown at her home near Buellton, Calif. Engvall is currently a professor at the Burnham Institute in La Jolla, Calif.

Every so often, a new technology completely changes the medical practice. It's impossible to imagine an internist without a stethoscope, or an orthopedist without an X-ray machine.

In 1971, two Swedish scientists, Eva Engvall and Peter Perlman, who died in 2005, invented a test that revolutionized medicine.

Called the ELISA test, the method uses antibodies to seek out the presence of hormones or viruses. In the past, testing for these was cumbersome and time-consuming. But ELISA tests can be done in a matter of hours, sometimes minutes.

The test is widely used today, for detecting malaria in small villages in Africa to home pregnancy testing.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Tags
Morning Edition
Joe Palca is a science correspondent for NPR. Since joining NPR in 1992, Palca has covered a range of science topics — everything from biomedical research to astronomy. He is currently focused on the eponymous series, "Joe's Big Idea." Stories in the series explore the minds and motivations of scientists and inventors. Palca is also the founder of NPR Scicommers – A science communication collective.