5 Engaging Ways to Teach ELISA that Keep Students Interestd

Anjaney Kothari

Five Engaging Ways to Teach ELISA

Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) is a ground-breaking technique to quantify specific proteins of interest using antigen-antibody affinity. It has diverse applications, ranging from hormone detection in pregnancy tests to antibody detection during vaccine development. A large proportion of basic science laboratories also regularly use ELISAs for quantifying different proteins. This means that a significant number of biomedical scientists need to learn the basics of ELISA, from usage to troubleshooting.

But ELISA involves a number of reagents and equipment, and can often take hours to complete. These factors can make the ELISA learning curve somewhat harder for beginners. Is there a way to teach ELISA such that students can navigate the learning curve more easily? Here, we list five exciting ways to teach ELISA so students can easily learn this useful biomedical assay.

1. Engage Students with Interactive Models

Interactive models have the immense ability to make scientific concepts more interesting and techniques more accessible. Such models can play a special role in teaching time- and resource-intensive experimental techniques such as ELISA. They can help students practice the motions of the technique without the cost of time and resources.

For example, Labster’s interactive ELISA simulation allows the students to perform ELISA in a virtual lab emulating a realistic scenario. In our simulation, students get to interactively use ELISA to quantify protein production by different cell lines. In the process, the students will identify the most efficient cell line for producing Factor IX to treat hemophilia patients.

ELISA virtual lab showing bones.
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2. Make the Topic Fun with Games and Activities

Using games and activities in teaching infuses into students an undeniable energy and fervent competitiveness that enhance their learning ability. Gamifying the teaching process and adding fictional characters can further improve the learning outcome.

Take Labster’s ELISA simulation, for example. In this simulation, students can virtually perform an ELISA alongside Dr. Lisa, a fictional character working on developing hemophilia drugs. They can learn about the different types of ELISAs and understand the underlying basics, all in a fun way. With such an engaging learning experience, these students will be even more excited to perform the assay in real life.

3. Accelerate Learning by Incorporating Technology

In a real lab setting, if a student messes up an ELISA, they will have to restart. Typically, this would mean investing another 4-6 hours to complete the process, not to mention extra protein samples and resources. This is where the power of technology comes into play. A virtual reality (VR) setup or simulation can bypass the need to restart, thus accelerating the learning process.

For example, through Labster’s ELISA simulation, students can learn how to correct any technical mistakes by troubleshooting the errors themselves. The simulation asks students to compare good and bad ELISA results, and identify the errors that generated the bad results.

Sealing the ELISA plate using a microplate seal.

4. Inspire Students Through Career Exploration

Inspired students are the most enthusiastic learners. One way to inspire students to learn ELISAs is introducing them to the professions for which these assays are indispensable. Seeing how professionals regularly use ELISAs in their careers will help the students attach value to what they are learning.

Talk to your students about how immunologists utilize ELISAs to check the efficacy of vaccines. Tell them how cancer biologists use ELISAs to measure various cancer biomarkers in their research. Perhaps you can even invite some of these professionals to discuss the importance of ELISAs in their work.

5. Connect Topic to Real-World Applications

There is no better inspiration for learning than knowing that it has the potential to transform the world. Letting your students know how ELISAs are revolutionizing research and healthcare can make the topic more accessible to them.

For example, tell your students how ELISAs can help reveal whether someone has the necessary antibodies to fight an infection. Inform them about how ELISAs help diagnose infectious diseases, including COVID-19 and Zika. Such connections to real-world applications will help exemplify the power of ELISA and encourage the students to learn the technique.

Final thoughts

ELISAs are so commonplace in biomedical research that many prospective researchers will find it necessary to learn about them. By using the teaching methods that we have discussed here, you can make ELISAs fun to learn and easy to execute for your students.

a man sitting in front of a computer monitor
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