Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Antibody industry must shake reputation for selling sub-standard products

Crucial scientific research is at risk from low quality, commercially available antibodies, according to Nicholas Hutchings, CEO of Everest Biotech.

Dr Hutchings is frustrated at the low opinion scientists have of antibody suppliers because their experiments are being written off as a result of purchasing antibodies that significantly vary in quality.

"Admittedly, there are a lot of sub-standard commercial antibodies out there, and it’s easy to see why some scientists don’t have much faith in them. But, it’s impossible for us manufacturers to validate antibodies in all the applications, systems and species that users need — especially when the target protein is quite novel,” said Dr Hutchings.

Everest Biotech’s anecdotal evidence suggests that many scientists are angry and annoyed at spending lots of time and money testing abs from multiple companies. The issue has also been raised in the literature: Clifford Saper (J Comp Neurol. (493:477– 478 (2005)); and more recently by John Couchman (J Histochem Cytochem. 57(1): 7–8 (2009)).

“Researchers should never buy antibodies where the exact antigen is not openly stated. If they are unsure, they should try and stick to purchasing from original manufacturers, avoiding resellers that mark up and rebrand antibodies made by other companies. They will get more knowledgeable technical support and traceability on factors such as batch changes and storage conditions. Plus they will avoid the risk of testing the same antibody twice under different labels,” added Dr Hutchings.

“Manufacturers must act too because right now there’s a lot of distrust in antibodies, which is damaging the credibility of reputable suppliers. For our part, Everest is launching an antibody exchange scheme — offering scientists the opportunity to trade in any redundant antibodies (regardless of manufacturer) in part exchange for an equivalent Everest Biotech antibody. I don’t want to make money from disappointed customers,” concluded Dr Hutchings.

Everest Biotech