Guest post: Finding the perfect antibody

March 15, 2012 | Posted by Guest in Research |

This is a guest post by Alexandra Hodgson, Managing Director of 1DegreeBio (full bio below).

Last year, an estimated $2 billion dollars were spent on research antibodies alone. But in a 1DegreeBio survey of 400 antibody users, 48% reported that at least half the antibodies they purchased did not work as expected. There are many reasons for these reported failures. Some failures may result from a lack of sufficient product information; others might be accounted for by outright user error. Often, however, the antibodies themselves are just not as high quality as they should be – and researchers know it.

Despite these issues, there was no systematic way for feedback about antibody quality to make its way into the user community or back to the companies that provide them. Faced with a bad antibody, most of us just complained to our lab mates and tried a different one. And that’s how my company, 1DegreeBio, was born – to establish the first independent online resource with a comprehensive listing of all academic and commercially available antibodies.

I couldn’t, therefore, resists the opportunity to speak at this year’s annual meeting of the American Biomedical Resource Facilities (ABRF) on a panel titled “The Perfect Antibody: Does it Exist and How Do You Find It?” Leaving aside the question of whether a perfect antibody exists, 1DegreeBio is keenly interested in the problem of how users would find it, if it did.

Our mission is to unearth the very best antibodies available for scientists. When I was a student, our lab spent $300,000 on consumables per month, including antibodies, but the process of sourcing and evaluating those consumables was largely by word-of-mouth and company reputation. There was no systematic way to ensure that the products we sourced were the best possible.

At 1DegreeBio, our goal is not just to provide a ranking system for antibodies. We want to raise the quality of antibodies overall by enabling companies to acquire systematic feedback on what is working, what isn’t, and where there are product gaps in novel scientific areas, to help them to improve both their products and their product guidelines. The more communication we can enable between users and providers, the better the results for everyone.

Right now antibody providers are forced to be very reactive – when a new target surfaces, they must work quickly to fill that gap. As a result, there may not always be time for extensive reviewing and validation. 1DegreeBio facilitates a community-wide quality control process. It also creates a venue for the research community to better understand the challenges that companies face.

Beyond presenting 1DegreeBio’s progress at ABRF 2012, I look forward to picking the brains of the people that regularly work with antibodies, as well as people facing similar issues with other products. I want to hear about their experiences and find out what they need from a digital resource like ours. We work a lot with academic labs, but the core facility perspective is unique because of the volume and continuity of expertise.

It’s a very exciting time for scientists – digital tools are increasingly making their work easier, better and more efficient. We’re thrilled to be a part of that movement.

About the author

Alexandra Hodgson is the Managing Director of 1DegreeBio. She worked for four years as an international project manager for the Structural Genomics Consortium, where she helped launch and manage dozens of international initiatives and projects. Alex has an Honors Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Toronto in International Relations, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Hult International Business School (formerly the Arthur D. Little School of Management), and an Organizational Change Management Certificate from Harvard University. She has spent the past three years heavily involved in the start-up community, both in Boston and Toronto, and has consulted for small-to-medium sized companies in the area of innovation and strategic growth.

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