The story behind ValidAbs™
We’re proud to announce the launch of our brand new ValidAbs™ range!
ValidAbs™ is a highly validated, affordable range of data-rich antibodies designed for life science research. We know that many researchers struggle to reproduce data, suffer with poorly validated antibodies and waste valuable time in the lab. With ValidAbs™, we can help to improve research outcomes, reduce animal wastage and increase trust in the quality of antibody-driven life science research.
To celebrate the launch, we spoke to three of the scientists involved in the creation of ValidAbs™ to find out more about their roles, the story behind these antibodies, and their plans for the future expansion of the range. Here’s what Professor Elek Molnar, Matthew Wilkinson and James Flanaghan had to say about ValidAbs™…
Please tell us about your background and your role with Hello Bio...
Elek: I am Professor of Neuroscience and International Director for the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Bristol. I’m a member of Hello Bio’s Scientific Advisory Board, and am the Academic Lead and Supervisor of the Innovate UK KTN funded University of Bristol – Hello Bio Ltd Knowledge Transfer Partnership project.
Matthew: I did a PhD at the University of Bristol investigating the mechanisms underlying depression, and before that completed a pharmacology degree at Newcastle University. At Hello Bio I’m responsible for leading our ValidAbs™ program to produce reliable high quality antibodies. This involves sourcing the best possible antibodies, a lot of planning and completing validation experiments, and working with the team at Hello Bio to make the ordering process as seamless as possible for our customers.
James: I am head of product management at Hello Bio and am responsible for our product team who carefully manage our range of products for life science research (e.g. small molecules, antibodies, stains, dyes and reagents). We look after a range of high quality products which we continue to grow with an aim to bring new, exciting, and useful products to help support life science researchers in their research field.
What are the current challenges facing researchers who use antibodies?
Elek: There is a lack of appropriately validated antibodies for the investigation of key targets in neuroscience and other disciplines, which hinders progress. Due to the reproducibility crisis, researchers, journals and funding bodies are now demanding a much more rigorous validation of immunochemical reagents, something which is not often provided by commercial suppliers. It’s extremely difficult to obtain funding for research projects that rely on the development and validation of new immunochemical reagents (i.e. no available antibody = no research grant). Academic labs don’t have the capacity, commercial expertise and worldwide distribution networks required for making new reagents available for the wider research community.
Matthew: There is a shocking complacency that it is normal for researchers to spend months trying multiple antibodies for an experiment because most won’t work. Ask any researcher and they will either have first hand experience or have colleagues currently struggling with this issue. This wastes time, resources and shamefully wastes the tissue of human participants and animals. Because data is generally so poor about antibodies it’s hard for researchers to know which ones will work, meaning a lot of trust is placed in the antibody vendor to get it right. We’ve done a lot of work to understand what the problems are with antibodies and how to fix them; our white paper is a good place to start in order to understand these issues.
James: As Elek says, the ‘reproducibility crisis’ has gained a lot of attention over recent years and has highlighted the challenges that researchers face when using antibodies. This has emphasised and highlighted the need for high quality, reliable antibodies.
What are ValidAbs™, what’s special about them, and how are they going to impact research?
Matthew: ValidAbs™ are our new range of validated antibodies. Every antibody comes with extensive validation data and for an industry first, this data is available on Open Source to allow scrutiny by everyone. With the ValidAbs™ range we have aimed to provide more data, better quality data and superior background information compared to every other supplier. We really hope that the ValidAbs™ range can help make researchers more productive, improve data reliability and be a small cog in the effort to solve the reproducibility crisis.
James: We understand how important the need for reliable and trustworthy antibodies is. We are therefore incredibly passionate about the ValidAbs™ range and are excited that we will be able to positively impact research by ensuring that researchers can trust that the antibody they are purchasing from us has been validated and QC’d in depth. As part of this, we also try to be as helpful and transparent as possible, and have therefore made our validation data available on OSF open source and have tried to provide as many supporting protocols and resources as possible.
What role have you played in launching this new range of ValidAbs™?
Elek: I’ve used my research experience with antibodies to help Hello Bio to build the necessary academic links, infrastructure and knowledge base to enable the commercial distribution, routine testing and quality control of their immunoreagents.
Matthew: I’ve been responsible for running the program to develop ValidAbs™ alongside James and Elek. As well as planning and carrying out a whole bunch of validation experiments, I’ve also done a lot of work to develop the best quality antibodies possible while working with the Hello Bio team to make it as easy as possible for customers to find, buy and receive ValidAbs™. We’ve produced a huge range of guides and protocols which have been tested by a range of scientists, including students, to make it easier than ever to use ValidAbs™ in your experiments.
James: I have helped manage the overall development of this product range which has allowed the range to grow from its initial concept through to its launch.
What are the future plans for the range?
Elek: We are planning to extend the range of antibodies to key targets in various signalling pathways, which will directly complement Hello Bio’s pharmacological reagents. We are also planning to combine Hello Bio’s considerable expertise and excellent track record in medicinal chemistry to develop various tags for antibody labelling.
Matthew: While our initial plans are to complete our range of loading controls and neuroscience markers, we have big plans to expand the range such that researchers in a number of fields have access to the quality and reliability of ValidAbs™. One of the ranges we are currently working on is a range of glutamate receptor antibodies using the 40 years experience of Elek to ensure these are the best quality antibodies possible.
James: As we continue to grow our range, we will be closely monitoring current research and collaborating as much as possible with the research community to add useful, exciting and novel products to our ValidAbs™ range, with a particular focus on neuroscience. We would also love to hear from any researchers if they have any suggestions for antibodies that they particularly need.
The ValidAbs™ range was launched in collaboration with the University of Bristol as part of a UK government KTP program. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
Elek: The Innovate UK KTN programme facilitates knowledge transfer between academia and industry. The scheme provides funding for a KTP Associate, who receives a very wide range of training through working with both partners. Our collaboration provides ideal opportunities to exploit business opportunities through the introduction of unique antibodies that complement and extend Hello Bio’s product portfolio.
Matthew: Knowledge Transfer Partnerships aim to connect innovative businesses with world-leading experts at universities in order to bring technical expertise into the company. The academic guidance of Prof. Elek Molnar and Dr Daniel Whitcomb has been essential for us to develop the ValidAb™ range. This collaboration with the University of Bristol has also given us excellent insight into the problems researchers face with poor quality antibodies on a daily basis.
James: The partnership between Hello Bio, the University of Bristol and the KTP associate has been extremely rewarding as it has allowed us to ‘put our heads together’ to help draw on our many years of academic and commercial experience to help us innovate and work together in a collaborative way to launch the ValidAbs™ range.
How can researchers find out more about ValidAbs™?
Elek: The regularly updated Hello Bio website is an excellent source of information for researchers.
Matt: Here are some quick links to our new ValidAb™ products: Primary antibodies | Loading controls | Neuronal & glial markers
James: We have created detailed product datasheets, supporting protocols and in-depth guidance on our website which you can find here:
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