Elisa and Ria | Similarities & Differences between techniques

ELISA and RIA are two different types of immunoassays used in research and diagnosis.

Their principle is similar but their methods of detection and analysis  are different.

ELISA is a methods where in color is produced out of an immune reaction and the color is estimated for qualitative analysis and quantitative analysis.

While RIA is also an immune reaction, it involves presence of radiation after the reaction.


So the radiation is measured as a function of quality and quantity of the sample under test.

For more details read our detailed articles on ELISA principle and also RIA principle.

First we shall see the similarities.

ELISA and RIA similarities

Characters ELISA RIA
Principle Immunoassay type Immuno assay type and involves formation of antigen and antibody.
Factors involvedAntigen and antibody reactionAntigen and antibody reaction by immune methods.
Uses and applicationsFor research and diagnosisAlso useful in diagnosis and research
Cost of experimentationExpensive and one has to rely on ready made industry kits and elisa plate readerExpensive and one may need to procure radio isotopes and also radio film

ELISA VS RIA differences

Character ELISA RIA
The measurement relies largelyOn development of color.Production of radiation.
The key molecule isEnzyme linked to antigen or antibody.The radio active isotope.
The types of reacting substance to produce detectable changeMany enzymes like horse raddish peroxidaseMostly a single iodine isotope.
Time duration of experimental procedureIs very short and one can measure very fast.It is very time taking
Skill requirementMinimal skill and knowledge required.An efficient and highly skilled handler is needed to minimize the risk of exposure to radiation.
PermissionsNo special permissions required.Permissions or license required for use of radio active material
DisposalDisposal of waste is simple and can be done along with medical waste if used in hospital.Disposal requires special care to avoid radiation exposure by other people.
ApplicationsDisease diagnosis due to rapid experimentationLargely for receptor binding studies and also to small extent for diagnosis.

Also Elisa protocol has different types like direct elisa, indirect elisa, sandwhich elisa. Even there are multiple bindings like antigen-antibody-antigen or antibody-antigen-antibody.

The detection of color generated due to elisa reaction is done by simple photometer (visible spectrophotometer) where as in RIA, the measurement of the radioactive emission is done by using a gamma counter.

Both have different roles in research and also diagnosis. But currently use of RIA is declining in Health care while the ELISA technique has gained wide popularity. Especially for infectious disease, serum diagnosis by ELISA is too frequent as it is cheap and very rapid.

On the other hand RIA has got limited use due to safety issues and legal binding rule. Yet it is an indispensable tool in medical research as it helps in study of drug receptor binding and other micro-sturctural imaging.

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