Traditional ELISA, long the workhorse for specific target protein detection using microplate wells, is nearing its fundamen-tal limit of sensitivity. New opportunities in healthcare call for in vitro diagnostic tests with ultra-high sensitivity. Magnetic bead-based ELISA formats have been developed that can reach unprecedented sensitivities order of magnitude better than are allowed for by the rate constants for a single ligand-receptor interaction. However, these ultra-high sensitivity assays are highly vulnerable to a host of confounding factors, including nonspecific binding from background molecules and loss of low-abundance target to tube walls and during wash steps. Moreover, optimization of workflow is often time-consuming and expensive. In this work, we present a simulation tool that allows users to graphically define arbitrary binding assays, includ-ing fully reversible first-order binding kinetics, timed addition of extra components, and timed wash steps. The tool is freely available as a user-friendly webapp. The framework is lightweight and fast, allowing for inexpensive simulation and visuali-zation of arbitrarily complex assay schemes, including but not limited to digital immunoassays, DNA hybridization, and enzyme kinetics, for validation and optimization of assay designs without requiring any programming knowledge from the user. We demonstrate some of these capabilities and provide practical guidance on assay simulation design.
Supporting Information file for main manuscript