More than 100 researchers from around the world, including Los Alamos National Laboratory, have collaborated to craft a request that could fundamentally alter how the antibodies used in research are identified, a project potentially on the scale of the now-completed Human Genome Project.
“We propose that antibodies be defined by their sequences, just as genes are,” said Andrew Bradbury, a researcher at LANL, “and they should be made recombinantly in cell lines.”
Referring to antibodies according to the sequences encoding their various subunits, their concentrations and the standardized experimental buffers used for each assay would enable researchers world-wide to employ the same affinity reagents under the same conditions.
The sequence of an antibody or binding reagent is the ultimate “bar code” for that reagent, ensuring that everyone can use the same reagent for the same target.
Deriving the bar code involves either selecting antibodies from in vitro libraries, or cloning and sequencing antibody genes from hybridomas, the cells that traditionally make monoclonal antibodies.
However, it will require a paradigm shift in the way antibodies are supplied.