No News is Good News. Unless You’re a Blogger. Then Life Kinda Sucks
I’ve been waiting for an in-your-face, monumental news article or discovery to write about this week, and suffice it to say, the world has let me down. So now I am up to my own devices to share some thoughts on cell biology with you, dear scientist and I hope I do not let you down.
That said, I think I’ll discuss a common biological problem that has taken hold in recent years and runs rampant in labs across the world. A dire problem…One that really ought to be eradicated but thrives in the underbelly of almost every cell biology lab. It was inadvertently engineered by the very people who were originally thought to do what they can to eradicate it, much like the sci-fi flicks where an experimental animal gets out and the world is suddenly awash in flying pirahnas with a taste for teenage bikini-clad flesh (no really, a movie like that WAS made).
If you’re a P.I., your labbies are probably awash in it without knowing it, letting it infect your cell culture room. If you’re a labbie, then you’re probably touching it right now, and not even feeling it. This bug as more often than not stalled, or even hindered experiments, sometimes putting scientists at a sever disadvantage. It’s made scientists spend more money than they should “fixing” problems, and can waste a lot of time. Give up? It’s not mycoplasma. It’s not a virus,. This ugly-headed monster is commonly known as “Brand Loyalty.” I told you it was slow news month but read on. Please.
There are so many companies out there that it’s easy to say “Well, I’ve been getting my IL-2 from company x and I don’t want to screw it up by switching and getting different results.”
“It’s written right here. Catalog number, product description, size. So-and-so used it so I’ll make it easy on myself and keep it that way.” To that I say “BOOO! On you!”
The truth is , the technology that has made so many of these products available to us researchers is pretty common now. I’ve had people ask me, in no uncertain terms, if I would use Gemini’s proteins in my lab. My answer was, and still is: “Yeah. I have, and I’ll keep doing it until I think it’s time for a change.” No, I’m not getting any free swag or special treatment for writing this. I just can’t see how we as scientists can’t see through the big company labels and the idea that their QC measures are any better than a smaller company’s. When we study something, we run an experiment. Then we repeat it. Then we repeat it again (statistical significance!) for that coveted “n” of 3, or more.
Why not try the less expensive protein? Personally, I feel that the expensive ones simply rely on this unfortunate premise: Loyal customers are often rewarded by the highest prices. Moreover, it’s not uncommon for many companies to acquire their stuff from the same suppliers. Sometimes, proteins from THE SAME LOT can be sold by different folks with very different pricing. In this day and age, where we all are conscious of our budgets and our federal funding, it may be time to drop the loyalty and worry about #1 (That’s yourself by the way).
So at the very least, make your local rep seat a little bit and give Gemini’s recombinant proteins a try. They worked for me and my colleagues.