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So, What's This Exactly?

Custom-built antibodies don't always work the way they are supposed to and this can affect the results that researchers get in their experiments, NPR reports.

For instance, it notes that a multi-million dollar endeavor to develop a treatment for melanoma was disrupted after a researcher discovered that the antibodies being used were not dependable.

Researchers from academia, industry, and government convened at a conference this week to discuss the issue, NPR reports. It says that attendees agreed that one part of the solution to issue of unreliable antibodies is to develop a set of standards that antibody production companies can use to test their products. At the same time, those antibody ratings would enable researcher-consumers to compare products across companies.

NPR notes that the production of antibodies is a billion-dollar industry and that some smaller companies in the field that produce antibodies more cheaply also have reputations for lower-quality products.

It adds, though, that use of such standards would be voluntary and that testing antibodies would be time-consuming, as there are millions on the market.

Another part of the solution, NPR says, is to better train new researchers so that they validate the antibodies they use more consistently.