The quest for the antibody grail


One of the most common frustrations among biologists is the difficulty to get their hands on a good antibody with a decent chance to work well in the particular assay they have in mind.

There is not one universal quality control test for antibodies and many commercial antibodies which are advertised to work well, say, in Western blot will perform poorly in immunoprecipitation and abysmally in a FACS machine. Examples abound and researchers often lament about the money spent on re-testing antibodies or repeating experiments that have failed due to poor antibody quality.

A Technology Feature published in Nature today explores the ongoing (or planned) large-scale initiatives, in several attempts to generate better antibody resources. Among the notable initiatives, which have already achieved results, are the Sweden-based Human Protein Atlas and the Sanger Institute Atlas of Gene Expression. Other particularly ambitious projects in the starting blocks are the NCI Clinical Proteomics Technologies for Cancer and the European-based ProteomeBinders initiatives. The whole lot of efforts is being watched by HUPO Antibody Initiative.

We have written before about the difficulties faced by such initiatives and in particular, the nascent ProteomeBinders. But the good news is the different approaches seem to be gathering momentum. Hopefully, funding agencies will acknowledge the need to support such efforts and commercial manufacturers will join the fray.

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