Difference Between Biochemical and Cell Based Assays | Biochemical vs Cell Based Assays

The key difference between biochemical and cell based assays is that the biochemical assays are target-based assays while cell based assays are physiology-based assays.

Assays are important in research and development of drugs. It is an investigative procedure in the fields of pharmacology, laboratory medicine, and molecular biology for quantitative measurement and qualitative assessment of the presence, quantity, and functional activity of a targeted entity. Hence, biochemical assays and cell-based assays are two types of assays which are used in drug development. Biochemical assays are important in detection and quantification of biological molecules with respect to their activity. On the other hand, cell based assays are important to obtain biologically relevant information to predict and identify the level of response of an organism for a particular substance/drug.

CONTENTS

1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What are Biochemical Assays
3. What are Cell Based Assays
4. Similarities Between Biochemical and Cell Based Assays
5. Side by Side Comparison – Biochemical vs Cell Based Assays in Tabular Form
6. Summary

What are Biochemical Assays?

Biological assays are biochemical tools for analyzing biomolecules quantitatively or qualitatively. Hence, they are used to detect and quantify major cellular processes such as cell apoptosis, cell signaling, and metabolic reactions. In other terms, it is a common biochemical procedure to understand the target biomolecules while characterizing it. Therefore, during drug development, biochemists utilize hundreds of biochemical assays to analyze biomolecules both quantitatively and qualitatively.

Difference Between Biochemical and Cell Based Assays | Biochemical vs Cell Based AssaysFigure 01: Chemoluminescence

Based on the detection, there are three types of biochemical assays: colorimetric (chromogenic assays), fluorometric (fluorogenic) assays, and luminescent assays. In colorimetric assays, it is possible to detect a visible color change while, in fluorometric assays, it is possible to detect the emission signals through excitation by a light source. Finally, luminescent assays detect the light emitted by a chemical reaction.

What are Cell Based Assays?

Cell based assays are physiology-based assays that allow the detection of the response of biological organisms to a particular substance or biomolecule. Hence, cell based assays are important in the development of drugs. These assays are in vitro procedures that are performed in cell cultures. Through cell-based assays, regulation of gene expression, initiation or inhibition of biological processes in response to a particular substance can be detected.

Difference Between Biochemical and Cell Based Assays | Biochemical vs Cell Based AssaysFigure 02: Cell Based Assay

The parameters checked by cell-based assays include apoptosis, cell proliferation, oxidative stress, cytotoxicity, cell adhesion, migration, transformation, invasion, and immortalization. Therefore, based on these parameters, there are many types of cell-based assays. They are cell viability assays, cell proliferation assays, cytotoxicity assays, cell senescence assays, and cell death assays.

What are the Similarities Between Biochemical and Cell Based Assays?

  • Biochemical and cell-based assays are two types of in-vitro
  • Both types help to detect the effects of biomolecules on biological systems during the development of drugs.

What is the Difference Between Biochemical and Cell Based Assays?

Biochemical assays are target based assays while cell based assays are physiology based assays. Thus, this is the key difference between biochemical and cell based assays. Functionally, biochemical assays analyze the activity of bio-molecules quantitatively and qualitatively while cell based assays detect the response of particular organisms to a particular substance or a drug. Hence, this is the functional difference between biochemical and cell based assays.

Below infographic summarizes the difference between biochemical and cell based assays.
Difference Between Biochemical and Cell Based Assays | Biochemical vs Cell Based Assays

Summary – Biochemical vs Cell Based Assays

Assays are analytical tools for quantitative and qualitative assessment of a targeted molecule/ substance in the context of presence, quantity and functional activity. Hence, they are important in the development of drugs. Biochemical and cell based assays are two such assays useful in the fields of pharmacology and molecular biology. The key difference between biochemical and cell based assays is the type of process and measurement. That is; the biochemical assays are target based while cell based assays are physiology based.

Reference:

1. “Cell-Based Assay or Biochemical Assay? Now That’s the Question…” Cell-Based Assay or Biochemical Assay Now That s the Question – Enzo Life Sciences, 12 Feb. 2019, Available here.
2.“TechNote: What Are the Different Types of Cell-Based Assays?” What Are the Different Types of Cell-Based Assays – Enzo Life Sciences, 12 Feb. 2019, Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Luminol2006” By David Muelheims (David Mülheims, Germany) – Self-photographed (CC BY-SA 2.5) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Resazurin assay for mammalian cell viability” By – TwoOars – I (- TwoOars) created this work entirely by myself., (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia