Olink PEA technology is founded on a rich history of Swedish proteomics innovations

Sweden, and specifically, Uppsala University, were key players in the development and evolution of proteomics over the last century.

The invention of the analytical ultracentrifuge by Theodore (Thé) Svedberg, which resulted in a Nobel Prize in 1926, paved the way for molecular biology and proteomics. This device proved that proteins were a kind of macromolecule and helped distinguish proteins from one another. The Svedberg Lab was also where another bright Nobel laureate, Arne Tiselius, invented electrophoresis for the study of proteins and other molecules. Tiselius was also the founder of LKB, one of Sweden’s largest manufacturers of laboratory and medical instruments.

Pharmacia paves the way for other proteomics innovations


Building on the work on dextran by Anders Grönwall and Björn Ingelman the development of gel chromatography by Jerker Porath in 1951 is a highlight in the history of another Swedish pharmaceutical company behemoth: Pharmacia. Porath’s invention of Sephadex allowed the separation of different biomolecules by size. Sephadex is still used today in many industrial processes. Jerker Porath developed liquid chromatography further introducing ion-exchange chromatography, affinity chromatography, and metal ion chromatography with Sephadex as the matrix. Pharmacia was instrumental in the progress of other areas of proteomics, including the discovery of IgE in 1967, and the development of the first allergy test by Leif Wide, Phadebas IgE, in 1972.

Olink’s proximity extension assay (PEA) similarly uses dual recognition with antibody-protein pairs in high multiplex with DNA as its reporter.


ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) was created by two Swedish researchers, Eva Engvall and Peter Perlman, in 1971. This was the first method that used antibodies to detect proteins and other immunogens. ELISA was further refined by Leif Wide who introduced the sandwich ELISA using two different antibodies, one bound to the well and the other for detection. The impact of the sandwich ELISA on the healthcare system and immunodiagnostics cannot be overemphasized, and the method continues to be used globally for routine patient care. Olink’s proximity extension assay (PEA) similarly uses dual recognition with antibody-protein pairs in high multiplex with DNA as its reporter.

Surface plasmon resonance technology

The creation of surface plasmon resonance (SPR) technology enabled the analysis of many proteins at once. First developed and launched by Biacore in Uppsala in 1989, SPR is used to study the label-free interaction between proteins. The technology has evolved further to be able to analyze multiplexed microarrays to follow protein binding reactions.


PEA enters the proteomics technology scene

These innovations formed the foundation for the establishment of Olink Bioscience in Uppsala in 2004. With Professor Ulf Landegrens PLA technique as a base, Olink, led by Simon Fredriksson, first published PEA in 2011,

Our PEA technology was built from the wealth of proteomics knowledge generated right here in Uppsala and Sweden as a whole over the last century, culminating in the launch of our first protein panel based on PEA in 2013. And our technology only continues to evolve; we can now measure more than 3000 proteins at once using PEA. With such advances over the last decade alone, what will the next decade in Olink’s journey look like?!