Applications of Electrophoresis

Electrophoresis refers to the movement of dispersed or colloidal particles (which are suspended in a fluid) due to their interactions with an electric field which is spatially uniform. Some important applications of electrophoresis are listed below.

Application of Electrophoresis in DNA Fragmentation and DNA Analysis

One of the most important applications of electrophoresis lies in DNA analysis and the study of DNA fragments. Known for the consistency of the negative charge it holds, DNA (or deoxyribonucleic acid) is affected by the presence of an electrical current. Under the pressure exerted by an electric field on it, DNA breaks down into large and small fragments. This occurs because different fragments of the DNA are affected on different scales by the electric current. Now, a test medium (such as acrylamide gel or agarose gel) is employed to freeze the separate fragments of the DNA strand. Then, the electric field is removed and the fragments are studied under relatively high resolutions.

Application of Electrophoresis in Protein Detection

Immunoelectrophoresis, which is a relatively common type of electrophoresis, can be employed in order to analyze the existence of specific proteins and their chemical behaviour in certain environments. The formation of irregular protein molecules can be triggered due to several medical conditions such as kidney failure, multiple sclerosis, and certain types of cancers. These irregular proteins can be detected with the help of electrophoresis on the blood or urine samples and subsequently checking the results for any deviations from standard protein amounts and forms. Immunoelectrophoresis may also be used in order to detect particular proteins that are commonly referred to as immunoglobulins.

Application of Electrophoresis in the Testing of Antibodies

Electrophoresis is known to play a variety of important functions during the testing of antibiotics. Some of the most popular applications of electrophoresis in this field are in the testing of antibiotics for their purity. Through the application of electrophoresis to a solution which contains the antibiotic in the form of a paper strip which is impregnated with the antibiotic or a capillary (a tube which has a very small diameter) that is filled with the drug, the antibiotic can be differentiated from any impurities that may be present.

Here, electrophoresis is also incredibly useful in the determination of the strength of the antibiotic, which is of vital importance when it comes to the administration of exact dosages. The field of antibiotic research shares common ground with the field of genetic testing. Therefore, electrophoresis may also help in the discovery of genes that can indicate resistance to particular antibiotics.

Apart from these applications, electrophoresis also finds use in the testing of vaccines. To learn more about electrophoresis and other important concepts in analytical chemistry, register with BYJU’S and download the mobile application on your smartphone.

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