1. The assessment of a substance's activity on living cells or on organisms. Animals have been used extensively in drug research in bio-assays in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries. Current trends are to develop bio-assays using bacteria or animal or plant cells, as these are easier to handle than whole animals or plants, are cheaper to make and keep, and avoid the ethical problems associated with testing of animals.
2. An indirect method to detect sub-measurable amounts of a specific substance by observing a sample's influence on the growth of live material.

Glossary of Biotechnology for Food and Agriculture . 2015.

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