Being a little late for my Bioanalytical Chemistry lecture, I took a seat at the back of the lecture room. I had a glimpse at Dr. Lowe’s powerpoint presentation and tried to figure out how many slides I had missed. It looked like I had only missed a couple of introduction slides. So after settling in a bit more, I glanced at the lecture bench in front of me; my notepad, a pen and… a pregnancy test. Are you wondering what the pregnancy test was doing there? Well, I was wondering exactly the same!
Had someone around me placed it there? There were some gaps between me and the other students, so that didn’t seem likely. Had a student from the previous lecture left it there? That could be a possibility. But then how many students currently present in the lecture room had seen it when they came in? Someone might think it’s mine when they have a look in my direction or when they leave the room. What to do with this test; neglecting it or hiding it? I decided to poke Annelies in front of me and point out the test to her. She nodded and pointed towards the screen. OK message clear, she wanted to pay attention to the lecture. So I decided to go for the neglecting option also and paid attention to the lecture too.
Lanthanide luminescence was explained with forbidden emissions and a large Stokes shift, after which the topic shifted towards immunoassays. In the last three lecture slides the pregnancy test finally became to make sense! At the beginning of the lecture, Dr. Lowe had used the pregnancy test as an immunoassay example apparently and at the end of the lecture he returned to this theme by giving an example of multiplexing. Multiplexing is used to give an indication of the health of the foetus at the end of the first trimester of pregnancy, which is known as the triple test in the UK.*
My take home message? Try to be on time for lectures in the future?! Bioanalytical chemistry subjects can be found where you don’t expect them?! There’s a lot of bioanalytical chemistry behind tests related to pregnancy?! I haven’t made up my mind about that, but I’ll try to be on time next time and I’m looking forward to the next lectures 😛
*In case you’re interested in the Bioanalytical Chemistry; the triple test assays for three biomarkers associated with foetal health. Human alphafeto protein (hAFP), human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCGb) and estriol (UE3) bind to antibodies specific for their antigens. A mix with europium (III), samarium (III) and terbium (TbIII) labelled second antibodies is then introduced, which also bind to the antigens. After washing and adding an enhancement solution, Eu(III), Sm(III) and Tb(III) will be liberated and bind to the enhancer solution. When exciting the solution, different fluorescent signals can be emitted dependent on the biomarkers present. Different combinations may indicate an increased risk for Down Syndrome, Edwards’s syndrome or neural tube defects.