Taking on Research Reproducibility: Announcing Reagent Authentication Certificates

Our crisis in research reproducibility is here to stay, unless we get serious about changing a culture that promotes sloppy research. While much that has been written about the reproducibility crisis emphasizes problems with contaminated cells lines, low quality antibodies and insufficiently powered studies using animal models, any good chemical biologist can identify hundreds if not thousands of studies with small molecules that are also problematic.

Small molecules are drug-like reagents that can help build connections between a particular protein target and a cellular process or a human disease. Because they are drug-like, these molecules can also provide a compelling starting point for drug discovery programs. All small molecules, however, are not created equally. At the Chemical Probes Portal, we use the term chemical probe to define a privileged class of small molecules that is potent against a protein target of interest, selective for that target compared with other potential targets, and potently and specifically active in cells. When applied in well-designed experiments, these privileged small molecules are powerful research tools that can drive both biological discovery and the discovery of new medicines.  

At the Chemical Probes Portal, we are serious about improving the quality of research performed with small molecules. Our goal is to make it easier for scientists who are not experts in chemistry or chemical biology to identify, apply and source chemical probes. To this end, we are making Reagent Authentication Certificates available for chemical probes that earn our endorsement.

Each week, we identify new potential chemical probes and provide curated validation data along with at least one publication describing the chemical probe to our expert Scientific Advisory Board for review. If, after review, a chemical probe achieves a 3-star or better rating from our experts, the Chemical Probes Portal endorses it. For these chemical probes, we are now offering downloadable Reagent Authentication Certificates that our users can provide to journals or funding agencies to justify their choice and application of quality chemical probes in their experiments. (For an example, please see BAY-598.)

Before you choose a small molecule for your next experiment, check in with us to see if we can help, because research reproducibility problems are not only bad for scientists, they ultimately hurt patients.

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