Serology is easily one of the most critical aspects of healthcare practices today, and its use is integral for a plethora of different everyday medical applications. But what is it, and why is it so important?
Here, Brad Schaeffer the President of Medcomp Sciences takes a closer look at how serology came to be and the three most common ways it’s used today.
History of Serology
Many great strides were made in science and medicine during the twentieth century. Thanks to the many technological advances that occurred during this period, new and innovative fields started cropping up left and right, changing how these industries operated. One of these new fields was serology, the study of blood serum.
Serology was initially developed by Karl Landsteiner, an Austrian-American scientist specializing in immunology, in the year 1901. Serology’s initial goal was to study red blood cells up close and investigate the theory of blood types. Since then, it has been used for a wide variety of different medical applications.
How We Use Serology Now
While serology had humble beginnings, it’s now critical to keeping patients alive and even managing the spread of diseases. Here are some examples of how today’s medical professionals rely on serology.
Discover and Identify Antibodies
One practical use of a serology test is to determine if specific antibodies are present in a patient’s bloodstream. Antibodies are substances responsible for defending your immune system from harmful pathogens. They typically develop on their own after exposure to a toxic substance, or they can be administered artificially using a vaccine.
An antibody test can help determine things like whether a patient has had a certain kind of infection or whether the patient has been vaccinated against a specific pathogen. It can also be used to assess the efficacy of a vaccine.
Determine Compatibility for Organ Transplants
One of the most impressive, life-saving applications of serology is conducting blood tests for transplants. This helps determine compatibility for organ donations and other kinds of person-to-person transplants like bone marrow and blood transfusions.
For an organ from a donor to be safely transplanted into a patient, blood tests need to be conducted to ensure that both parties’ blood and tissue types are a match. Otherwise, the patient’s body could reject the transplanted organ. Thanks to serology tests, doctors and scientists can carefully examine each person’s blood to ensure that the transplant will succeed.
Diagnose Immune System Disorders
Studying the blood serum of a patient is also integral in diagnosing problems with the immune system. By closely examining a blood sample, doctors can identify whether the patient’s antibodies are actively working against them — a sign of an autoimmune disease.
Doctors can also tell if the antibodies aren’t doing their job as efficiently as they should, which could indicate that the patient has an immunodeficiency disorder.
The Power of Serology
Thanks to the invention of microscopes, developments in medical testing, and many other innovations in the healthcare field, serology is now used to improve the quality and efficiency of medical care. This field now saves lives, and the world of medicine is stronger because of it.