This story originally ran on July 27.
Precision Antibody announced last week that it has received a contract from Science Applications International Corporation-Frederick to provide antibody and antigen characterization for the National Cancer Institute's Clinical Proteomic Technologies for Cancer initiative.
The work is part of the CPTC's Antibody Characterization Program, which aims to thoroughly characterize all monoclonal antibodies used in the initiative in an effort to minimize the experimental variability that has often hampered antibody use in proteomics research.
The contract calls for Precision to provide full kinetic analyses of antibody-antigen pairs used in the initiative, as well as characterizations including ELISA, surface plasmon resonance analysis, Western blot analysis, antibody isotyping, and antigen characterization by SDS-PAGE. It follows on a contract Precision won from SAIC-Frederick last year to develop monoclonal antibodies for the CPTC initiative.
"The initiative behind this is to develop gold-standard antibodies that can be shared by the research community," Precision vice president Jun Hayashi told ProteoMonitor, noting that "many antibody companies just make an antibody against peptide fragments and don't really have extensive characterization being carried out on the antibody."
As Sandra Orchard, senior scientific database curator at the European Bioinformatics Institute, told ProteoMonitor earlier this month, such incomplete antibody characterization has caused scientists to waste "an awful lot of money over the years buying poor quality [affinity] reagents and coming up with misleading data because of it" (PM 07/16/2010).
Orchard was an author on a paper in the current edition of Nature Biotechnology that set forth minimum information about a protein affinity reagent – or MIAPAR – guidelines that establish what sort of characterization information antibody makers should provide for their reagents.
In an e-mail to ProteoMonitor, CPTC director Henry Rodriguez noted the importance of guidelines like MIAPAR to proteomics work, saying that "while a complicated process, ultimately having common standards on how affinity reagents are reported is a step in the right direction."
Rodriguez added that the CPTC's Antibody Characterization Program "uses a core set of assays with [standard operating procedures], including a public database that captures the performance data of each reagent and provides easy access to the research community. This level of transparency is what's needed."
Part of antibody production is making researchers aware of the need for the sort of transparent standards laid out by the MIAPAR guidelines and the CPTC, Hayashi said.
"If someone comes to us and asks for a specific reagent for protein 'X', we insist they give us information about the protein, about what kind of homologies exist, is there an isotope, is there a family of proteins you don't want it to cross-react with, and so on and so forth," he said. "You can't just go in and say, 'Give us the antigen, we'll make an antibody for you' – it's not that simple."