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Reproducibility: Standardize antibodies used in research.


Central to reproducibility1 in biomedical research is being able to use reagents that are identical to those described in publications. Alarmingly, there are serious flaws in the reliability of antibodies, the most widely used class of protein-binding reagent2, 3. In the body, antibodies help to fight pathogens. In the lab, biologists have long used them to track proteins of interest because they bind to specific targets. But in a 2008 study3, fewer than half of around 6,000 routinely used commercial antibodies recognized only their specified targets, with some manufacturers producing consistently good antibodies, and others consistently poor ones. This figure may be optimistic4. In fact, we believe that poorly characterized and ill-defined antibodies were in large part to blame for a study co-authored by C. Glenn Begley (a co-signatory to this article) being able to replicate the scientific results of only 6 of 53 landmark preclinical studies5. Across biomedical research, the resulting waste in materials, time and money is vast — costing an estimated US$350 million annually in the United States alone. To stem this loss, we call for an international collaboration and funding initiative to define all binding reagents according to the sequences that encode them. Crucially, researchers should use recombinant antibodies or binding reagents. These are made from reliable cell lines by isolating and incorporating the genes into plasmid DNA and transferring the plasmids into cells or bacteria for culture.

Type Journal
Authors Bradbury, A; Christ, D.
Responsible Garvan Author Prof Daniel Christ
Publisher Name NATURE
Published Date 2015-12-01
Published Volume 518
Published Issue 7537
Status Published in-print
OpenAccess link to author's accepted manuscript version