Fellow postdocs and graduate student of Standford have put together an interesting online tool. It started by the ascertainment that a lot of scientist are tired of knowing nothing about the quality of products before buying and testing them. This applies in particular to antibodies, used in mainly bio-related fields to detect specific parts of proteins, sugars or lipids. Antibodies are known to not always “work” for certain applications, and for reasons often unknown. Testing by trial and error, by purchasing similar antibodies from various suppliers is the only way to go. That’s where BenchWise kicks in.
BenchWise is platform that help you find peer reviews of life science research products, mainly antibodies for now. The goal it to help scientists find the right tools fast. For now the site has a list of hundred of antibodies, targeting different antigens and produced by various manufacturers The users can give feedback for specific antibodies, for example explain if it works properly for certain application (wester blots vs immunofluorescence). Each item can also be discussed.
This is addressing a clear gap in the kind of information that is available to scientists. It is extremely easy to get reviews of the latest iphone, but so much more difficult to get a real idea of the quality and properties of the “for science only” reagents. I hope this will catches on and help save many tax-payer dollars.