Now in its fifth year, antibodies-online launched their Independent Validation Initiative to address the growing concerns regarding the reliability of commercial antibodies and ELISA kits for research applications. Research reagent reliability is a growing concern in the life sciences. Prinz et al. and Begley et al. reported in 2011 and 2012 respectively that the application of scientific findings could not be put to practical use in drug development due to non-reproducible results. In particular antibodies have taken the blame in the “reproducibility crisis” (Baker M. (2015)). We are committed to improving the antibody and ELISA kit market by providing independently collected, scientifically sound, and properly documented data for the products that we sell.
The Independent Validation Initiative is now focused on providing first hand data for our antibodies and ELISA kits produced under real-world conditions from customers that are using these products on a daily basis. Each validation is documented by a detailed report including a step-by-step protocol for the validation experiment, the customers’ verdict about the product’s aptness for the validated application, a comment section addressing noteworthy observations when using the antibody or kit, and a figure plus figure legend illustrating the results. In exchange, antibodies-online fully refunds the products’ order value.
Customer validations have the advantage that the antibodies and kits are being tested under typical conditions with biologically relevant positive and negative controls. In comparison, sample and product specifics are often not taken sufficiently into consideration in large scale screenings and validations by contracted laboratories. An antibody’s performance can vary greatly in an experiment depending on dilution factors, incubation temperature and time, sample preparation, and also other accessory reagents. These factors are more likely to be considered in an individual validation with the option for optimization compared and the validation outcome is more meaningful as a consequence.
Which validation proposals are being pursued depends largely on the information provided by the prospective validator beforehand: in particular the selection of the positive and negative controls are essential criteria for the selection process, but also other factors such as the validator’s expertise. Once the validation is approved we agree to provide a full refund for the antibody or kit order upon completion of the final validation report. The refund is being provided regardless of the validation outcome as long as it is backed by the validation data. Thus, we assure that the validation remains truly independent.