Can We Trust Western Blots?

November 25th, 2020

Western blotting is a crucial technique applied in the molecular and cell biology (Mahmood & Yang, 2012). Using this technique, the researchers are in a position to identify various protein components from a combination of proteins in a cell. The technique of Western blot is mainly used in research studies for the identification and separation of proteins. For instance, the technique has been applied in the diagnosis of various diseases such as HIV/AIDS. With the help of the technique, it is possible to make a separation of proteins based on the molecular weight. In the process of separation, the main method involved is the gel electrophoresis. The current paper provides a number of reasons Western blotting can be utilized in research studies.

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Use of Western Blotting

As mentioned above, Western blotting is a special technique that is highly applicable in various clinical and scientific disciplines (Mahmood & Yang, 2012). The method has remained to be an important tool in cell and microbiology. It has been successfully applied in the cell biology and in the antibody reactions. In health and medicine, the Western blot analysis is mostly used in the detection of the anti-HIV antibody where it is used in HIV diagnosis. In this test it is mainly used as a confirmation test for HIV. It is also used in the detection of the hepatitis B infection. The method is also utilized in the veterinary medicine in the confirmation of the FIV+ status.

Reasons for Trusting Western Blots

In the article, the author describes the western Bloting as flawed, however I trust the Western blot analysis because of its sensitivity and a strong ability to detect the smallest amount of protein in a sample. For example, it has the ability to detect 0.1 nanograms of protein (Ning-Liu, 2013). Due to its high sensitivity, the method is highly applicable in the diagnosis of various diseases. It has a high capability of detecting even the slightest response that can occur when diagnosing a bacteria or a virus in a patient. Another amazing feature of this technology is that it has the secondary antibody activity. Consequently, it has a strong ability to make amplification of the intensity of the signal that has been detected by the imaging system. Whenever there is a high sensitivity, it then indicates that there are fewer antibodies required in the testing. As a result, it is easier to save on the costs of conducting a test. The high sensitivity associated with Western blotting is a convincing factor that makes me believe that the technique and its results are reliable.

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The author criticizes the method due to the misleading result but he does not consider the advantages of the method. I support the use of the Western blot because the techniques applied by this method make it useful in showing the presence of different types of proteins. Consequently, it appears to be the most suitable technique that can be used in the evaluation of different protein levels in various cells (Oransky, 2012). On the other hand, the technique is helpful in the monitoring and the purification of various protein fractions. The best thing is that it even exhibits the protein size through the binding of the antibody. As a result, the method is useful in the evaluation of protein levels in the cells. The Western blotting method makes it easy to identify the amount of protein that has accumulated in the cells.

Moreover, due to the efficiency of this method in the separation of various protein components, its results seem to be reliable in different tests that involve the separation of proteins. For example, the method is applied in the HIV test. In this test, the Western blot analysis is used in the detection of the HIV antibody in the serum samples. The proteins contained in the cells infected with HIV are separated through the Western blot analysis. In the above case, there have been a large number of people who have been diagnosed with HIV through this technique (Newman, 2013). If the method is successfully used in the diagnosis of the disease, then there is enough proof that it is effective. Even though some people oppose the use of the Western blot because of some rare cases of its failure, no one can dispute the fact that the technique has been successfully used in HIV diagnosis. Therefore, the high success rate of the Western blot in the diagnosis of HIV is a reason that makes me have some certainty that the Western blot method is a useful technique that is applicable in the medical field. Its ability to detect immunogenic responses from viruses and bacteria is another important factor that makes me trust this method (Mahmood & Yang, 2012).

The specificity of the Western blot is another crucial factor that makes me trust the technique. Different from other techniques, the Western blot method relies on two main factors. At first, the method applies the gel electrophoresis technique. Using electrophoresis, it is easy to sort the sample into different sizes. The electrophoresis stage is the most important process in the detection (Ning-Liu, 2013). Additionally, the method also assists in providing clues on the various sizes of the protein under study.

The author cites only one specific research where the results were wrong, however, that is not enough reason to make me discredit the western blot technique. .Another factor that makes the method reliable is its ability to use antigens. Western blot is characterized by the specificity of the antibody, namely antigen interaction. Various antibodies have the affinity for the particular proteins and thus, one can easily rely on the method in the detection of the target protein. The technique can easily detect the target protein even in a complex mixture of thousands of proteins. With this ability, it is true that the Western blot is a technique that can be trusted in the diagnosis of the disease (Mahmood & Yang, 2012).

The western blot has also been on the spotlight over the manipulation of the images through technologies such as Photoshop (Mahmood & Yang, 2012). The author cites a case where there was manipulation of images and this lead to a wrong image of a protein that was not targeted (Instruction for authors, 2016). Manipulation of results is a serious scientific offence and the responsible authors and scientists should be held accountable. However, even though the technique has been criticized it is notable that when done in the right way without cases of manipulation, the western blot produces excellent results, which is the reason I trust it.

Conclusion

The Western blot is a vital technique applied in the diagnostic activities. I can trust the method because of its unique capabilities. At first, the method has a high sensitivity and uses antigens. Its ability to detect different types of proteins in a mixture of proteins is also a significant factor that makes me trust it. Finally, the success rate of the method in the diagnosis of HIV and the possibility to verify the results also instill confidence in this method.

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