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Antibody Specificity: Consequences for Research


Debate about the quality of research use antibodies and the need for validation has intensified over the past few years.(1-7) Numerous research manuscripts describing novel biomarkers have reportedly been withdrawn from publication due to mistaken conclusions based on assumed antibody specificity and inadequate controls.(1) In one significant case, faulty antibody results from one research group lead to changes in focus of type 1 diabetes research programs all over the world.(7)

Clearly, validating the specificity of your antibodies is crucial to research success. Reviewers are increasingly calling for documentation of specificity, and it is no longer enough to simply cite use in a previous publication.(1) Validation data must be included in the publication or provided by the antibody supplier. While it is the researcher’s obligation to verify and validate the specificity of antibodies in their own experimental systems, Cell Signaling Technology’s high validation standards go a long way towards reducing the extra experiments required to demonstrate antibody specificity.

Each Cell Signaling Technology (CST) antibody is validated in-house using rigorous standards including multiple experimental controls and, when available, multiple cell types. An antibody lot is only released when CST scientists are convinced of its specificity and sensitivity in the recommended applications. All of this data is available to you upon request for each released antibody. We hold ourselves to high standards for antibody specificity, and endorse efforts to educate researchers and journal editors regarding the importance of this issue for the integrity of the scientific literature and, consequently, for the advancement of human health.

  1. Saper CB (2005) An open letter to our readers on the use of antibodies. J. Comp. Neurol. 493(4), 477–8.
  2. Saper CB (2009) A guide to the perplexed on the specificity of antibodies. J. Histochem. Cytochem. 57(1), 1–5.
  3. Bordeaux J, Welsh A, Agarwal S, Killiam E, Baquero M, Hanna J, Anagnostou V, Rimm D (2010) Antibody validation. BioTechniques 48(3), 197–209.
  4. Welsh AW, Lannin DR, Young GS, Sherman ME, Figueroa JD, Henry NL, Ryden L, Kim C, Love RR, Schiff R, Rimm DL (2012) Cytoplasmic estrogen receptor in breast cancer. Clin. Cancer Res. 18(1), 118–26.
  5. Lukinavičius G, Lavogina D, Gönczy P, Johnsson K (2013) Commercial Cdk1 antibodies recognize the centrosomal protein Cep152. BioTechniques 55(3), 111–4.
  6. Blow, N (2013) Antibody Validation: Whose Job is it?, Oct 23.
  7. Hansson SF, Korsgren S, Pontén F, Korsgren O (2013) Enteroviruses and the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes revisited: cross-reactivity of enterovirus capsid protein (VP1) antibodies with human mitochondrial proteins. J. Pathol. 229(5), 719–28.