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generations of development and sophistication

If the assay involves addition of exogenous reactants (the reagents), then their quantities are kept fixed (or in excess) so that the quantity (and quality) of the target is the only limiting factor for the reaction/assay process, and the difference in the assay outcome is used to deduce the unknown quality or quantity of the target in question. Some assays (e.g.,biochemical assays) may be similar to or have overlap with chemical analysis and titration. But generally, assays involve biological material or phenomena which tend to be intrinsically more complex either in composition or in behavior or both. Thus reading of an assay may be quite noisy and may involve greater difficulties in interpretation than an accurate chemical titration. On the other hand, older generation qualitative assays, especially bioassays, may be much more gross and less quantitative (e.g., counting death or dysfunction of an organism or cells in a population, or some descriptive change in some body part of a group of animals).

Assays have become a routine part of modern medical, environmental, pharmaceutical, forensic and many other businesses at various scales from industrial to curbside or field level. Those assays that are very highly commercially demanded have been well investigated in research and development sectors of professional industries, undergone generations of development and sophistication, and in some cases are protected by the regulation of the use of Intellectual property such as patents granted for inventions or various regulatory incentives and exclusive rights. Such industrial scale assays as these are often done in well equipped laboratories and with automated organization of the procedure—from ordering an assay to pre-analytic sample processing (sample collection, necessary manipulations e.g. spinning for separation or other processes, aliquoting if necessary, storage, retrieval, pipetting/aspiration etc.).