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NCI/FDA Clinical Proteomics Program to Launch Antibody Credentialing Consortium

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The joint NCI/FDA clinical proteomics program is planning to provide an antibody validation service via the web for researchers seeking data on the antibodies most suited for specific proteins, Lance Liotta, co-director of the program at NCI said last week.

The initiative, called the antibody credentialing consortium, is aimed toward helping researchers build arrays of antibodies for use in protein chips, as well as other protein identification and separation techniques, Liotta said. Proteomics researchers in his program would benefit from the central databank, he said, but “overall we’re doing it as a service to the scientific community.”

“Having everything in one place is a resource for us, attracts groups to give us antibodies, and everyone benefits,” he said.

The consortium plans to post data on antibody specificity using Western blotting, as well as sensitivity, dilution, and affinity data, Liotta said. The web site, which won’t be accessible to the public for at least another month, will focus on antibodies to proteins involved in phosphorylation and other signaling pathways. Eventually, Liotta hopes the data will address proteins “that cover the length of an entire signaling pathway.”

The NCI/FDA program already has data on 261 antibodies taken from its experiments using protein and antibody arrays, but plans to solicit antibodies from manufacturers and other researchers as it builds the database. “We have a whole bunch of companies that are very interested in participating,” he said, including Cell Signaling Technology and 3M. Liotta said the NCI/FDA program is currently negotiating a formal agreement with the outside vendors.

Although the antibody credentialing consortium will provide data on the antibodies’ performance versus specific proteins, Liotta said the consortium will not explicitly endorse one manufacturer’s antibodies over another’s. “As a government entity we can’t recommend or endorse anything,” he said. “We’ll just make [the data] available to the scientific community, and they can get those antibodies themselves and look at what we’ve done to qualify them.”

The NCI/FDA program, initiated in 1997, won’t need to solicit additional funding for the consortium, Liotta said. In July, the agencies announced that they would receive an additional $1.1 million over three years to expand the joint clinical proteomics program, effectively tripling its budget.

But Liotta said his budget for the next year is not set in stone. “The new director of the [Center for Cancer Research at NCI Carl Barrett] could cut us back and say we don’t need proteomics, but I doubt it,” he joked. — JSM

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