Biological materials are inherently unstable and will often begin to break down quickly when exposed to warm temperatures or multiple freeze/thaw cycles. Many products and reagents used in biological research, such as enzymes and antibodies, are no exception. These products may begin to lose effectiveness and potency over time, and can compromise experimental results if quality loss is not accounted for. For biological products and reagents used in research applications, it is essential to engage in stability testing of key materials, as well as understand best practices for prolonging the stability of biological materials.
Stability Testing of Biological Materials
There are many methods of testing biological products for stability and performance. Common basic protocols, like gel electrophoresis and spectroscopic profiles, can provide a general picture of biological material integrity and predict the viability of some products, especially many nucleic acid and protein-based materials. More complex protocols, such as immunochemistry techniques, western blot, and cell-based bioassays, can provide a more detailed picture of sample quality and verify biological activity of many types of products. For products based on proteins, protocols such as protein aggregation analysis, peptide fingerprinting, glycosylation, post-translational modification, and higher order structure characterizations can provide in depth quality analysis. The best stability testing method for a given biological product often depends on the needs and budget of the laboratory. But all labs can benefit from ensuring that reagents are viable before spending time and money running experiments using them.
Prolonging the Stability of Biological Materials
Proper storage and handling can go a long way towards maintaining the integrity of biological material. The most common factors that reduce biological material stability and quality are time spent above freezing temperatures and repeated freeze-thaw cycles. Best practices for specific products and reagents will vary, but many materials will maintain quality in long term storage if kept in ultra-low (-80ºC) or cryogenic (-150ºC and lower) freezers. For products being used on shorter timelines it is often best to create working stock aliquots and freeze portions of the product that are not in use. This will reduce the number of freeze-thaw cycles that a material must endure, prolonging the integrity of the original product.
Manufacturer Recommendations for Product Quality
Many biological products used in research are commonly purchased from a manufacturer, such as reagents, enzymes, antibodies, etc. The stability of these products over time and in different storage conditions has typically been tested extensively by the manufacturer, so it is often best for researchers to take heed of manufacturer recommendations for storage and shelf life. Even when following manufacturer recommendations, it is important to remember that their stability estimates are often based on following best storage and handling practices and it may still be necessary to perform stability testing on important materials to ensure quality. By contracting external professional biostorage services, materials will be guaranteed proper care and monitoring. These services are the best way to keep material that is not used immediately or have specific care needs.
Biological material can quickly lose quality and functionality, particularly when it is improperly handled or stored buy generic synthroid. Routine stability testing confirms that biological products are performing at the appropriate level to ensure reliable and replicable research results. Following manufacturer guidelines and best practices for storage and handling can prolong the stability of biological products, protecting experimental replicability and data integrity, and saving time and money by preventing the need to repeat experiments.