The main difference between bioassay and chemical assay is that bioassays rely on living cells or tissues to assess the activity of a substance, whereas chemical assays involve a series of chemical procedures to analyze a substance within a sample.
An assay is an investigative procedure for qualitatively assessing or measuring the amount, presence, or function of a certain substance. The substance that is to be measured is called the analyte or the target of the assay. The term “assay” is useful in many industries, including the environmental, pharmaceutical, textile, medical, and chemical industries. Some examples of analytes include drugs, chemical elements or compounds, organic substances, cells, or biochemical substances. Assays are usually used to measure the intensive property of the analyte. Then it is expressed in the needed measurement. Some assays can appear similar to titrations and chemical analysis. However, the analyte is intrinsically more complex in behavior and composition. Hence, the reading of an assay may involve more difficulties.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is a Bioassay
– Definition, Sensitivity, Features
2. What is a Chemical Assay
– Definition, Sensitivity, Features
3. Difference Between Bioassay and Chemical Assay
– Comparison of Key Differences
Assay, Bioassay, Chemical Assay
What is a Bioassay
Bioassay is a procedure that determines the amount, concentration, or biological activity of a biological substance. The analyte in bioassays may be a hormone, a plant growth substance, or a vitamin. Even samples of soil, air, or liquid can be assayed depending on the test organism.
In bioassays, living cells or tissues are used to detect the analyte’s effect or determine the chemicals’ potential toxicity. The organism used is sensitive to the compound for which the test is being conducted. Thus, the effect observed mostly is the death or deteriorated health of the test organism.
There are many uses for bioassays: a measurement of the pharmacological activity of a new substance or chemically undefined substances, an assessment of the number of pollutants released by a particular source such as wastewater or urban runoff, a measurement of the concentration of a known substance, and investigation of the function of endogenous mediators. In fact, they can conduct a wide range of experiments relating to the toxicity of known chemical solutions or unknown mixtures.
Although these bioassays are beneficial in determining the biological activity within an organism, their performance takes a long time and is laborious. Moreover, bioassays can be qualitative or quantitative. Generally, bioassays should be reproducible. They biologically use biological tissues and a lot of reagents to carry out the test. Bioassays are generally more costly than chemical assays.
What is a Chemical Assay
A chemical assay is a set of procedures that analyze a sample. Chemical assays are more precise than bioassays. They also take a lesser time to complete. Chemical assays are comparatively less costly and easy to handle and perform.
Moreover, chemical assays can either be quantitative or qualitative. Quantitative assays determine the amount or the volume of a substance, while qualitative assays determine the physiochemical properties. They are associated with precipitations, extractions, distillations, etc.
Examples of chemical essays include gravimetry, spectrometry, colorimetry, infrared spectroscopy, spectrometry, chromatography, and turbidimetry. People use chemical assays to determine the quality of the raw materials in manufacturing processes and test organic chemicals and solvents.
Difference Between Bioassay and Chemical Assay
Bioassay is a procedure that determines the amount, concentration, or biological activity of a biological substance, while a chemical assay is a set of chemical procedures that analyze a sample.
Moreover, bioassays measure the activity or the concentration of a substance by its effect on living cells or tissues, whereas chemical assays analyze a sample with the help of chemical substances.
Bioassays are high in sensitivity, whereas chemical assays are low in sensitivity.
Bioassays take more time to analyze a sample, while chemical assays are less time-consuming.
Bioassays are more costly than chemical assays.
Requirement of Manpower
While bioassays require high manpower, chemical assays require low manpower.
Bioassays are difficult to handle, whereas chemical assays are easy to handle.
Bioassay and chemical assay are two different methods that help to determine the activity of a substance. The main difference between bioassay and chemical assay is that bioassays rely on living cells or tissues to assess the activity of a substance, whereas chemical assays involve a series of chemical procedures to analyze a substance within a sample.
1. Will Kinton. “What Is Assay? Definition, How It Works, and Role in Futures?” Investopedia.
2. “Bioassay – An Overview.” Science Direct.
1. “Microplastic toxicity assay in Daphnia magna – 1-s2.0-S0269749120360802-gr2 lrg” By Lisa Zimmermann, Sarah Göttlich, Jörg Oehlmann, Martin Wagner, Carolin Völker – Lisa Zimmermann, Sarah Göttlich, Jörg Oehlmann, Martin Wagner, Carolin Völker (2020). What are the drivers of microplastic toxicity? Comparing the toxicity of plastic chemicals and particles to Daphnia magna. Environmental Pollution, Volume 267, 115392, doi:10.1016/j.envpol.2020.115392 (CC BY 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Chemical analysis of water, reagents for the determination of magnesium in freshwater” By Marco Verch Professional Photographer (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr