Affinity chromatography is a (bio-) chemical separation method based on highly specific molecular interactions (affinity) such as between antigens and antibodies, enzymes and substrates, or receptors and ligands. The stationary phase is commonly composed of beads of a gel (e.g., agarose gel) with a covalently bound ligand (e.g., an antibody). Affinity chromatography is currently one of the most powerful separation methods, as it combines the size fractionation capability of gel permeation chromatography with specific, reversible interactions of molecules.
The method was introduced by P. Cuatrecasas, M. Wilchek, and C.B. Anfinsen in 1968 (Cuatrecasas et al. 1968). Pedro Cuatrecasas and Meir Wilchek were jointly rewarded the Wolf Prize in Medicine 1987 for this discovery.