Antibodies are used a lot in research labs around the world and scientists tend to trust what’s on the label. But antibodies aren’t as reliable as researchers may think, with some scientists now arguing that “due diligence” in their use should include considerable time and money.
I remember comparing my own experimental results to published blots. We were in theory using the same antibody, and yet the pattern on the blot was completely different. Leave it to an eager principal investigator to squint really hard to see the band he or she wants to see.
“Scientists often know, anecdotally, that some antibodies in their field are problematic, but it has been difficult to gauge the size of the problem across biology as a whole. Perhaps the largest assessment comes from work published by the Human Protein Atlas, a Swedish consortium that aims to generate antibodies for every protein in the human genome. It has looked at some 20,000 commercial antibodies so far and found that less than 50% can be used effectively to look at protein distribution in preserved slices of tissue. This has led some scientists to claim that up to half of all commercially available antibodies are unreliable.”
You can read the whole article here. It’s not exactly meant for the general public, but it is quite interesting if you are interested in reproducibility issues in science.