The Importance of Sourcing the Correct Antibodies for Stem Cell Research: An Interview with Dr. Andrew Crain at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

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Stem cell research holds untold potential towards new cures and treatments for numerous diseases that have no remedies today. However, scientific pursuits will continue to suffer from high levels of irreproducible research without a systemic change to the industry.

stem cell research's leading expert Dr. Evan Snyder and his trusted lab manager, Dr. Andrew Crain

Dr. Andrew Crain managing the research in Dr. Evan Snyder's lab

Although the possibilities within regenerative medicine are endless; the associated challenges are still a hindering factor.

The medical potential of stem cells is both extensive and astounding, and there are exciting prospects for their use, in multiple areas of medicine, due to their differentiating characteristics. Stem cells are unique as the have the potential to renew themselves through cellular division, and they have the ability to be induced to become tissue or organic-specific cells with special functions.

Stem cell therapy in the form of bone marrow transplantation has already been utilised for decades, however research is now heavily focussed on alternative ways in which stem cells can be utilized, and they are now being consideration for applications including; in combination with gene therapy, for the treatment of autoimmune diseases, to remove unwanted cancer cells, and for use on scaffolds, with the capability of forming three-dimensional structures.

Although the possibilities within regenerative medicine are endless; the associated challenges are still a hindering factor. The properties of stem cells are still incompletely understood, and how to successfully control their differentiation is often unclear, meaning that growing stem cells in conditions suitable for clinical use, remains a challenge and there is a fear that their ability to proliferate could lead to cancer following transplantation.

The role of antibodies in stem cell research

The characterisation of stem cells is vital. The routine process of validating starting cell populations should be simple, quick and reliable, to ensure accurate and consistent results. Transcription factors are essential for the regulation of gene expression, and are found in all living organisms; binding to either enhancer or promoter regions of DNA adjacent to the genes that they regulate. Within embryonic stem cells (ESC’s), the primary signalling pathways responsible for maintaining pluripotency and self-renewal cause the expression and activation of three key transcription factors; OCT-4, SOX2 and NANOG. The transcription factors expressed vary between different cell types; therefore, they can be used to isolate or identify differentiated versus non-differentiated cells.

Antibodies are a vital tool to facilitate stem cell research, as they recognise certain markers, and also work against stem cell biomarkers to make them appropriate for bio imaging, immunofluorescence microscopy, multiplex protein assays, ELISA and Western blot analysis. When choosing a suitable antibody, it is important to consider multiple aspects of your experiment, including the nature of the sample, which determines which antibody is most appropriate, and which region of the protein that you wish to detect along with how the sample will be processed.

The importance of choosing the most appropriate antibodies and the associated challenges

As there are millions of antibodies available, and in most cases there is often more than one antibody available for each target, the challenge is being able to narrow down the choices on offer.

Choosing the most appropriate antibody is essential; however one of the main challenges is antibody validation which is directly related to data irreproducibility. Out of 53 landmark studies in oncology and haematology, only 6 (11%) could be replicated. When researchers are choosing which antibody to consider for their research, One World Lab can offer the solution. Users can purchase antibodies in test size aliquots, meaning they have the option to screen multiple antibodies at lower cost, and then they have the option to leave reviews about the antibodies that they anonymously purchase, to help inform other researchers.

Click here or visit http://oneworldlab.com/about-one-world-lab/news/2017/02/20/the-importance-of-sourcing-the-correct-antibodies-for-stem-cell-research/ to read the Q&A with Andrew Crain: Lab Manager in Snyder Lab at the Burnham Institute for Medical Research

Conclusion

Stem cell research holds untold potential towards new cures and treatments for numerous diseases that have no remedies today. This future where once untreatable conditions that affected us are now finally curable requires an unwavering foundation in the fundamental understanding of how complex biological systems work. The only way this can occur in a reasonable timeframe is if the industry that supplies biomedical research tools and reagents, like antibodies, improves the way it operates. Without a systemic change, the biomedical research profession will continue to suffer from high levels of irreproducible science.

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