More than 100 companies are developing or have developed antibody array and/or bead platforms. The competition is fierce, but progress in the field has been slow. A new market analysis report by D&MD Publications tries to pinpoint opportunities.
D&MD’s "Market Opportunities and Challenges for Antibody Arrays and Beads" identifies and analyzes current and future practices, unmet needs, and opportunities and challenges. The information presented in the report tries to bridge the gap between an apparent disconnect between the capabilities of the available technologies and the demands of the market place.
The demand for miniaturized, parallelized protein analysis remains high, but the main challenge for antibody arrays and beads continues to be limited availability of content. These two factors are weighed in the market projections.
A second tier of challenges outlined in the report represents opportunities, which include:
Sensitivity is lacking for many analytes. New methods for amplifying signal may be the solution, but researchers are concerned about also amplifying background.
Multiplexing reduces accuracy of single measurements. The trade-off is more data, but some assays depend on accurate quantitation.
Cross-reactivity and reduction of accuracy limit the number of analytes that can be multiplexed. As a result, small plexes of less than 25, or even less than 10, are common.
Assay development is time-consuming, especially when building multiplexes. Each element must be analyzed individually and then in combination.
Content remains the number one challenge. Good antibodies are hard to find. Some researchers are able to get by with small sets of antibodies for focused experiments, but many are left wanting broader coverage. Researchers are open to capture agents that are not antibodies, but have yet to see any significant benefits. Generating alternative capture agents with high affinity does not appear to be any easier or cheaper than generating monoclonal antibodies.
Researchers are open to new formats for detection. Sensitivity is an ongoing challenge because many analytes of interest are below the limit of detection. Researchers have tried or are interested in trying new amplification methods, but have yet to report any major successes.
Accuracy is another ongoing challenge because antibodies are not always entirely specific, adding noise to the signal. Researchers are interested in moving beyond endpoint-only measurements and detecting binding in real-time, but are waiting for advances in technology to make this possible.
The total market for capture planar arrays and beads was estimated to be $120 million in 2005. The growth rate is estimated to be approximately 10% per year for the next few years and will then jump to 20%, based on technological advances, such as better content and/or better detection methods.