"A number of self-contained immunoassay kits using porous materials as solid phase carriers of immunochemical components such as antigens, haptens, or antibodies have been described. These kits are usually dipstick, flow-through, or migratory in design.
"In the more common forms of dipstick assays, as typified by home pregnancy and ovulation detection kits, immunochemical components such as antibodies are bound to a solid phase. The assay device is 'dipped' for incubation into a sample suspected of containing unknown antigen analyte. Enzyme-labeled antibody is then added, either simultaneously or after an incubation period. The device is then washed and inserted into a second solution containing a substrate for the enzyme. The enzyme-label, if present, interacts with the substrate, causing the formation of colored products which either deposit as a precipitate onto the solid phase or produce a visible color change in the substrate solution.
"Flow-through type immunoassay devices were designed to obviate the need for extensive incubation and cumbersome washing steps associated with dipstick assays. Valkirs et al., U.S. Pat. No. 4,632,901, disclose a device comprising antibody (specific to a target antigen analyte) bound to a porous membrane or filter to which is added a liquid sample. As the liquid flows through the membrane, target analyte binds to the antibody. The addition of sample is followed by addition of labeled antibody. The visual detection of labeled antibody provides an indication of the presence of target antigen analyte in the sample.
"Korom et al., EP-A 0 299 359, discloses a variation in the flow-through device in which the labeled antibody is incorporated into a membrane which acts as a reagent delivery system.
"The requirement of multiple addition and washing steps with dipstick and flow-through type immunoassay devices increases the likelihood that minimally trained personnel and home users will obtain erroneous assay results.
"In migration type assays, a membrane is impregnated with the reagents needed to perform the assay. An analyte detection zone is provided in which labeled analyte is bound and assay indicia is read. See, for example, Tom et al., U.S. Pat. No. 4,366,241, and Zuk, et al. U.S. Pat. No. 4,956,275. The sensitivity of migration type assays is frequently reduced, however, by the presence or formation in the sample of undesirable solid components which block the passage of labeled analyte to the detection zone. Assay sensitivity also declines when migration assay devices are flooded with too much liquid sample.
"Migration assay devices usually incorporate within them reagents which have been attached to colored labels (i.e., conjugates), thereby permitting visible detection of the assay results without addition of further substances. See, for example, Bernstein, U.S. Pat. No. 4,770,853. Among such labels are gold sol particles such as those described by Leuvering in U.S. Pat. No. 4,313,734, dye sol particles such as described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,373,932 by Gribnau et al., dyed latex such as described by May et al., WO 88/08534, and dyes encapsulated in liposomes by
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