Digitize or risk becoming obsolete seem to be the only two choices available for products across different walks of life – right from cameras to newspapers. Not surprisingly, this trend also extends to western blotting, a technique used for detecting specific protein molecules within a complex protein sample. Since their early days, western blotting imagers have been using film to obtain results. But, much like the digital camera revolution, a digital western blot imager revolution is underway.
The current conditions prevailing in the global western blot market are conducive to such a sweeping change – investments in R&D are on the rise, demand for faster and more accurate western blot tests is mounting, and diagnosticians and medical practitioners are seeking products that can help overcome the seemingly unsurmountable disadvantages of conventionally used western blotting tests. According to a report published by Persistence Market Research, the global western blotting tests market is expected to exhibit a 5.4% CAGR from 2015 to 2021, as it rises in value from US$529.1 mn in 2015 to US$725.0 mn by 2021.
How Digital Western Blotting Imaging is better than Film-based Imaging
In the absence of good alternatives to conventional western blotting tests, diagnostic lab technicians have been forced to work with some of the inherent shortcomings of western blot tests. The greatest drawback of western blotting is its labor-intensive and time-consuming nature.
Moreover, several tests have shown that any changes to the method adopted for western blotting tests could change their outcome. These concerns have paved the way for the greater adoption of digital and automated western blot imaging as it reduces the dependence on manpower and helps save time.
There are several reasons why diagnosticians and medical practitioners are choosing digital western blotting imagers over manual processes entailing the use of film. Here are a few advantages that make a case for the use of digital western blotting imaging:
Offers more reliability in quantitation given the fact that it uses anywhere between 3 and 5 orders of magnitudes of linear dynamic range.
The elimination of films helps cut down operation costs by a noticeable degree
The need to invest in ancillary infrastructure such as darkrooms is also eliminated, thus helping save space and related equipment
Film-based western blot imaging generates hazardous waste but digital imagers present no such disadvantage making them decidedly more eco-friendly
Tedious processes such as scanning films, which also add to the time taken to obtain the results, are done away with. This speeds up the overall time to result enabling more tests to be conducted in a given time span.
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Encouraged by the growing adoption of automated western blotting tests, companies have ventured forth into this space and launched several innovative products in the recent past. Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., for instance, launched the next generation of its iBind Flex Western System on the market in May 2015 to give the automation trend a further boost. Likewise, LI-COR’s C-DiGit, which is a blot scanner for chemiluminescent western blotting, helps curb expenses on film development and save time. As more products such as these make their presence felt on the western blot market, digitization of the process will become an imperative for survival.