Keele University scientists have recently warning fellow researchers of impure reagents that could skew results. The study was carried out by Keele’s Dr. Sharon Owne, Mr. Phile Jones, Dr. Heidi Fuller and Lecturer Sally Roberts at the RJAN Orthopaedic Hospital in Oswestry, part of Keele University’s Institute of Technology and Science in Medicine, and assisted by researchers in St Andrew’s Universities and Cardiff.
The study found that commercial reagents, which were purchased from highly esteemed companies, were not pure but contained numerous contaminants that had a bulk and potentially misleading effect on the scientist’s work.
Lecturer Roberts says, “We have found that commercial preparations of such specific chemicals were very impure, comprising numerous other components that actually affected our results. We came by such findings by chance as our laboratory purchased the biomolecules from a well-established supplier to investigate their effect on nerve cells but anomalous results forces use to test their purity. We were studying what regulated nerves growing into patient’s intervertebral discs to try and help us comprehend what results in back pain in a specific group of people.
“Employing mass spectrometry and qualitative Western blotting, we discovered unacceptable contamination with other biologically active molecules. Reagents that are misleadingly labelled can waste scientist’s funds and time. Testing such molecules can be highly costly and time-consuming and not all researchers will have the equipment of finance to do so. One purchase costs hundreds of pounds for just a couple of milligrams and then for it to be impure is even more expensive, as it wastes valuable research time and other resources.”
Most vital are the wrong results can distort vital scientific experiments. What is interesting is that numerous branches of medicine and science have been looking at this molecule and bought the same substance as the company did, ranging from glaucoma and diseases in the eye to researches on malaria.
“It is highly essential for researchers to be aware of this when buying commercial reagents,” says the head author of the study.
Unfortunately, the effect of such impurities may have already intereferred with experiments resulting in inaccurate conclusions and reports by the researchers.
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