Need for an Antibody “bar code” system


Source: Wikimedia Commons

Antibodies are proteins that aid the body in identifying and neutralizing attacks on the immune system, and have been used by scientists for a long time as specific binding reagents. Antibodies are widely used in biological research but they are not defined at the sequence level unlike genes and plasmids.

The issue with the antibodies being currently used is that most antibodies are not validated and the batch differences in the quality and concentration of antibodies are enormous. In order to avoid the above validation issues, it is vital that antibodies are defined by their sequences.

Many researchers worldwide have collaborated to alter how the antibodies that are vital for research are identified and made. The problem that these researchers are trying to resolve using their new sequencing and recombinant expression demand is that of antibody quality control and accurate identification.

“What we are proposing is to move over to an in vitro method of generating antibodies that will not require the use of animals at all, and importantly, will directly lead to molecules with known sequences,” Andrew Bradbury, a researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory, said.

Identifying antibodies according to their sequences would enable researchers to use the same conditions and affinity reagents thereby keeping same concentrations and experimental buffers same for the antibodies produced. Trying to make uniform antibodies in the laboratories for all the 20,000 identified genes would cost less than the money wasted worldwide on antibodies that lack validation and characterization but would yield better results for research, says one of the researchers.

The original publication can be accessed here.

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