What is Olink Explore?

Olink® Explore 1536/384 is a high-multiplex, high-throughput protein biomarker platform that uses Proximity Extension Assay (PEA) technology coupled to an innovative new readout methodology based on Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) using the following Illumina® instruments:

  • NovaSeq 6000
  • NextSeq 550
  • NextSeq 2000

The current Explore library of 1536 protein assays is available via four 384-plex kits, but this offering will be doubled a little later in the year, with 3072 assays available via eight 384-plex kits. This expanded version of the platform, Olink® Explore 3072, is already available for pre-order now:

Read more about the expanded Explore library

PEA uses matched pairs of antibodies (Abs) attached to unique DNA oligonucleotides. When the correct pair simultaneously binds to a target protein, their DNA oligonucleotides hybridize and serve as a unique template for DNA polymerase-dependent extension. This provides a double-stranded DNA molecule for each detected protein, providing a unique barcode for high-sensitivity, high-specificity readout with NGS. Compared to our Target 96 products, Olink Explore offers a broader protein library and higher throughput with a lower cost

  • 4-fold increase in the number of proteins measured simultaneously (from 96-plex to 384-plex)
  • 4-fold increase in the number of samples measured simultaneously (from 96 to 384 per run)
  • a 6.5-fold increase in throughput

To see more about PEA technology with NGS and qPCR readout and the quality controls (QC) built in to the assays, please read our white paper.

View a new animated video explaining the principles of PEA with NGS and qPCR readout.

How was the protein library designed?

Olink Explore currently includes assays for 1472 proteins and 48 controls, built into four 384-plex panels. This comprises 1463 unique proteins, as the assays for IL-6, IL-8 (CXCL8) and TNF are included for quality control purposes in each of the four 384-plex panels that make up the complete library.

Protein categories in Olink Explore 1536

Our long-term goal is to cover the low-abundant dynamic plasma proteome in the best possible way. The strategy is to rapidly and intelligently drive library expansion by selecting biomarkers that contribute the most to key research questions and cover as many biological pathways and functions as possible. Five main categories of proteins were defined during target selection, and each assay can be classified into one or more of these:

  • Low-abundant inflammation proteins
  • Proteins actively secreted into the circulation
  • Approved and ongoing drug target proteins
  • Organ-specific proteins that have leaked into the circulation
  • Proteins representing more exploratory potential biomarkers

Information from widely used open-access bioinformatic databases (including UniprotHuman Protein AtlasGene Ontology (GO) and DisGeNET) and customer feedback was used as input in the target selection process. Olink’s strict validation requirements and quality standards constitute the final inclusion criteria.

What is it for?

The Olink Explore platform enables our entire library of  protein assays to be measured in a four 384-plex panels using about 1 µL of blood sample per 384-plex panel. Reflecting the flexibility and scalability of our offering, customers can choose to screen the entire library, or to focus on one or more of the four disease/biological process-focused 384-plex panels.

More details on the 384-plex panels can be found via the links below:

Olink® Explore 384 Cardiometabolic

Olink® Explore 384 Inflammation

Olink® Explore 384 Neurology

Olink® Explore 384 Oncology

Who should use it?

Scientists involved in drug development, clinical research or basic life science research who are looking to run large-scale discovery studies to address the low abundant plasma proteome. Olink Explore is available as a fee-for-service offering to screen our entire library of more than 1460 proteins. Samples can be run by our Analysis Service labs in Boston, MA or Uppsala, Sweden. Olink Explore kits can also now be purchased directly for running in labs with the necessary equipment and training – for more details, please contact us.

For an overview of the practical details involved in ordering a study, sending samples and receiving results using Olink Explore, PLEASE READ OUR GUIDE.

For those looking to run more targeted biomarker studies and/or sample matrices other than plasma, serum or CSF, we recommend our portfolio of well-established Olink Target panels (96-plex with qPCR readout).

Want to know more?

Additional technical information about Olink Explore is available on this website – READ OUR FAQs

If you have additional questions or comments about the Olink Explore platform, please use the form below:


Biomarker assays

~428 million

Protein data points generated




Certified Core Labs

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