Saturday, July 18, 2009

Resources for the frugal lab

Obviously budget issues are on most PIs' and lab managers' minds these days. Here are a few resources for the budget-conscious lab:

This biotech company is in the business of immuno-based assays: ELISAs, FACS, antibodies for Westerns. They don't have quite the inventory of antibodies for cell signaling as some of the other companies, but their products generally cost less than other vendors. Quality seems to be on par with other companies like BD. I've used one of their ELISA MAX kits and was very impressed with the sensitivity. Tech support has been prompt and courteous. Also they are also competing like mad. You can request free samples of antibodies to try for your application. They are also negotiating discounts with non-profit research organizations. Not the 1% or 3% discount if you order ridiculous quantities of product like some companies are offering, but substantial meaningful discounts if you get your department or institute on board.

DSHB (Developmental Studies Hybridoma Bank) was created by NIH "to bank and distribute hybridomas and the monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) they produce to the general scientific community in order to facilitate research" (per DSHB mission statement). For nonprofit institutes, antibodies and hybridomas from DSHB are about 1/10 of the cost you would pay a vendor. If an antibody works well for you, in many cases you can get the hybridoma for at or under $250. For comparison, ATCC charges about $400.

Addgene is a nonprofit organization for plasmid sharing. Researchers deposit plasmids from their publications at no cost. Then any other nonprofit/academic lab can request the plasmids from Addgene at a cost of $45 to $65 per plasmid (depending on the quantity ordered) and $20 shipping within the US ($45 internationally).

Although not a vendor, this is a great resource if you're studying cell signaling in human cell lines or if you're doing immunohistochemistry (IHC) in human tissues. The Protein Atlas is an extension of the Swedish Human Proteome Resource (HPR). As part of this program, HPR has validated numerous antibodies (commercial and academic) for various applications. Search by protein name or gene ID, and you'll get a summary of antibodies validated for IHC, immunofluorescence, protein array and Western blots. If the antibodies crap, they'll tell you. If it's pretty good, they provide images for Westerns. For several proteins, they also provide expression profiles (from IHC or IF) in normal tissues, cancer tissues, and immortalized cell lines; they even provide images of staining.

Know of other sites for the budget savvy lab? Leave a comment with a site address.