Antibody development is a multi-faceted process comprised of 5 major elements: Antigen, Adjuvant, Animal, Antibody, and Application. The process is cyclical beginning with the target you wish to develop antibodies against and ends with the application the antibody is used in and yet the application influences the antigen. In this post, we will introduce what each element is and how it is used in antibody development.
Antigens are the target you wish to develop antibodies against and the start of antibody development. We use antigens to immunize host species which generates an immune response against the antigen within the host and prompts polyclonal antibody production. The types of antigens we can generate antibodies against are vast as the immune system is robust and adaptable against foreign objects. Some antigen types we encounter when developing antibodies are peptides, proteins, small molecules, carbohydrates, antibody variable regions (idiotypes), whole cells, and post translation modifications.
Adjuvants are catalysts for the immune system to increase the magnitude of an immune response. There are many immunogens the immune system develops antibodies against, so to ensure the immune system responds to the antigen of interest, we mix adjuvants with the antigens. As a result, the immune system gets a clear signal to start making antibodies towards the antigen, increasing the speed and amount of antibodies produced. Some commonly used adjuvants include Freund’s, Aluminum Salts, and Toll-like receptor agonists.
Animals are the beginning of antibody development, be it polyclonal, monoclonal, or recombinant. Host species’ immune systems generate antibodies which we isolate further by purifying as a polyclonal or processing into a monoclonal or recombinant antibody. We select different host species depending on the antibody function and quantity needed. Available animals include rabbits, goats, mice, chickens, and llamas.
Antibodies are biological products used in assays for research and diagnostics, and can also have therapeutic applications. Once antibodies are developed, they are screened for the application of interest. We categorize antibodies into 3 different types depending on their development methods and binding capabilities: polyclonal, monoclonal, and recombinant antibodies.
Applications are assays or functions the antibody will be used for. We develop antibodies with the end application in mind as antibodies may work differently depending on the application. Typically, when developing antibodies we use ELISA to measure development. Other examples of assays and applications that we have developed antibodies for are Western blot, immunohistochemistry, immunocytochemistry, flow cytometry, immunoflourescence, neutralization … and more.
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