Indicator displacement assays (IDAs): The past, present and future

Adam C. Sedgwick, James T. Brewster, Tianhong Wu, Xing Feng, Steven D. Bull, Xuhong Qian, Jonathan L. Sessler, Tony D. James, Eric V. Anslyn, Xiaolong Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

142 Citations (SciVal)


Indicator displacement assays (IDAs) offer a unique and innovative approach to molecular sensing. IDAs can facilitate the detection of a range of biologically/environmentally important species, provide a method for the detection of complex analytes or for the determination and discrimination of unknown sample mixtures. These attributes often cannot be achieved by traditional molecular sensors i.e. reaction-based sensors/chemosensors. The IDA pioneers Inouye, Shinkai, and Anslyn inspired researchers worldwide to develop various extensions of this idea. Since their early work, the field of indicator displacement assays has expanded to include: enantioselective indicator displacement assays (eIDAs), fluorescent indicator displacement assays (FIDAs), reaction-based indicator displacement assays (RIAs), DimerDye disassembly assays (DDAs), intramolecular indicator displacement assays (IIDAs), allosteric indicator displacement assay (AIDAs), mechanically controlled indicator displacement assays (MC-IDAs), and quencher displacement assays (QDAs). The simplicity of these IDAs, coupled with low cost, high sensitivity, and ability to carry out high-throughput automation analysis (i.e., sensing arrays) has led to their ubiquitous use in molecular sensing, alongside the other common approaches such as reaction-based sensors and chemosensors. In this review, we highlight the various design strategies that have been used to develop an IDA, including the design strategies for the newly reported extensions to these systems. To achieve this, we have divided this review into sections based on the target analyte, the importance of each analyte and then the reported IDA system is discussed. In addition, each section includes details on the benefit of the IDAs and perceived limitations for each system. We conclude this Tutorial Review by highlighting the current challenges associated with the development of new IDAs and suggest potential future avenues of research. This journal is

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-38
Number of pages30
JournalChemical Society Reviews
Issue number1
Early online date10 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
XLS thanks the National Natural Science Foundation of China No. 21907080 and Natural Science Foundation of Shaanxi No. 2020JM-069. TDJ wishes to thank the Royal Society for a Wolfson Research Merit Award. EVA and JLS are grateful for continued support throughout their careers from the Robert A. Welch Foundation, and most recently the Welch Regents and Doherty-Welch Chairs (F-0046 to EVA and F-0018 to JLS).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)


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