A Postmortem on Western Blots

The True Cost of Western Blots

Western blotting is commonly touted as a straightforward, inexpensive technique for protein analysis, and on the surface, it can appear to fit the needs of many labs. However, once you begin to dig deeper, Western blotting can present technical challenges that can impact the reproducibility of your results, as well as the money and time you spend, and often waste, trying to answer your research questions.

How reliable is your technique?

Scientific results and interpretations are dependent on reliable, reproducible results. You need to be able to reproduce your data, and other labs need to be able to confirm your results. A number of variables influence traditional Westerns including the person who runs the experiment, amount of protein loaded, the transfer efficiency, blocking conditions, antibody concentration and incubation times, detection methods and exposure times. And even after you optimize your conditions sometimes it seems like your results can be dependent on just plain luck!

Meet Wes. His capillary-based immunoassays solve many of the challenges that come with traditional Westerns. All assay steps from protein separation, immunoprobing, detection and analysis of data are fully automated. There’s no transfer optimization, and manual intervention is significantly reduced, decreasing the risk of human error. Do you need to optimize your assay? Say goodbye to cutting up individual strips, repeated washing steps and incubations. With Wes, you just pipette your sample and reagents into the wells of an assay plate, set up your run and press start. Three hours later you get reliable, consistent results with intra-assay coefficient of variations (CVs) <15%.

Wes’ software, Compass for Simple Western, can easily save experimental protocols, allowing you to reliably control and track your experimental conditions, and making it easy to identify any experimental deviations. Want to make sure you publish the correct experimental conditions, even after your graduate student moves on? Compass for Simple Western lets you save your data with the protocol conditions and have all the information at your fingertips. Be confident in the data you publish—reduce the risk of publication corrections, or even retractions, due to mislabeling of conditions or samples. Working in a regulated environment? — it's got all the 21 CFR Part 11 compliance tools you need with the Compass Authorization Server v2.1.

Are you wasting time and reagents?

Traditional Western blots take 3 days to run, and with all the manual steps they are labor intensive. While many justify assigning undergrads and graduate students as they provide inexpensive labor or as a scientific rite of passage, wasted resources extend beyond labor—are you considering the cost of sample acquisition, consumables, antibodies, film and chemical waste disposal? Are you repeating experiments to get the picture-perfect result for publication?

With Wes, you can process up to 25 samples in 3 hours. If you cut the time to results from 3 days to 3 hours, can you publish sooner and avoid being scooped, or get the preliminary data you need for a grant application? With results in hand in 3 hours, how much further could you advance your research project? Don’t get bogged down in methodologies from the ‘70s because that is the way it has always been—take your laboratory into the 21st century and advance your research at the pace you need.

How does Wes compare to traditional Westerns?

How much hands-on time do you spend setting up your experiment, performing washes, antibody incubations and detection?

How long do you have to wait to get your results?

Little sample, big results

Do you need more data from your precious sample? Do you have to pool samples or does your method limit the number of experimental questions you can ask? Do you want to reduce your sample acquisition costs—the number of mice you need to acquire, breed and house; the amount of expensive, specialized media you need to grow enough cells to analyze; the limited amount of sample from patients available to you? In many cases, sample acquisition is the most expensive part of the assay. With Wes, you only need 3 µL of sample per capillary, allowing you to maximize the data you can get from your sample. Embrace minimalism, be a (sample) conservationist, without sacrificing your data bounty.

Multiplex for the win

Do you want to identify multiple protein isoforms of your target of interest or dissect complex signaling pathways? Multiplexing gives you the flexibility to increase the number of data points per sample. With Wes, you can get multiplexed assays up and running quickly and efficiently, enabling analysis of multiple targets in a single run. Read our how-to guide to learn more, along with tips to implement the workflow in your lab.

Want to learn more about Wes?

Watch the video and see how Wes can process up to 25 samples in 3 hours. The short video shows the step by step process, from sample loading to signal detection.

If you're curious about pricing, just send us your request.