There are many uses for custom antibodies in research, from developing therapeutics to their use in in vitro assays. Production of antibodies is a technically demanding and time-consuming process, and it’s critical to choose a supplier with a strong track record. Here, we talk with Rook Khajenouri – our antibody production specialist at Envigo – about some key factors to consider when using antibodies in research. Rook also discussed how highly skilled specialists at research organizations like Envigo can contribute at each stage of the production process, from initial decision making to scaled-up production.
The importance of quality antibodies
As Rook explains: “There is no doubt that antibodies are incredibly useful tools for both research and the clinic. They are used to diagnose and treat diseases, to perform bioanalysis of drugs and biological systems, they’re critical during the clinical development of therapeutics, and are highly beneficial as therapeutics themselves. However, it’s well recognized that antibodies will fail to deliver on their intended outcome if they’ve not been optimally produced.”
The issue is that the generation of antibodies is complex, and a variety of factors can impact each stage of the production process. These issues are discussed in more detail here. It’s clear that without careful consideration of each step, the resulting antibody may not meet requirements and is likely to perform poorly on any number of characteristics. This results in a failure to generate consistent and reproducible data, with associated financial, regulatory, commercial, and scientific consequences.
Fortunately, working with contract research organizations can mitigate these risks. As Rook highlights, “Our labs are run by highly skilled people, who have been working with antibodies for a very long time. They understand the need for optimized protocols and up-front consideration of all the factors that could determine the quality of the final product. Our customers really value our ability to consistently produce antibodies at specification and workable timescales.”
Does my research application need a polyclonal or monoclonal antibody?
Polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies are among the biggest selling therapeutics. Rook explains how these antibodies differ, “Immunoglobins, or antibodies, are Y-shaped molecules that are secreted by B cells with the aim of neutralizing antigens. It’s the means of producing these antibodies that classifies them as monoclonal (generated by identical B cells) or polyclonal (generated with different B cells).”
This means that monoclonal antibodies recognize only one epitope of an antigen, while polyclonal antibodies will have higher affinity to a particular antigen due to the recognition of multiple epitopes.
The benefits of using a monoclonal over a polyclonal antibody in research are that they are more homogenous and have greater batch-to-batch consistency. However, production of monoclonal antibodies requires different skills and processes. This can result in additional costs and time to generate batches.
Therefore, whether a polyclonal or monoclonal antibody is needed depends on the application, timescales governing a particular project, and whether stable cell lines already exist. One key benefit of working with a trusted provider when making these decisions is that customers can draw on the knowledge and experience of specialists to guide their choices. As Rook points out, “when we talk to our clients to really get to the bottom of what they need their antibody for, we usually end up providing truly customized solutions to the questions they’re seeking to answer.”
Whether researchers would like to follow standardized protocols, or develop new ones, Envigo’s processes are fully documented and traceable. A fuller description of our services can be found here. To speak with a specialist about your needs, please contact us.