Should all research antibodies be recombinant monoclonals? Too early to ditch polyclonals!

An article published today in Nature calls for the large scale production of recombinant monoclonal antibodies, along with other recombinant affinity reagents including aptamers and affimers, for use in the research market.

Andrew Bradbury and Andreas Pluckthun argue that this would lead to increased reproducibility and promote progress in biomedical research.

natureHere at CiteAb we support this initiative, and our founder Dr Chalmers is a co-signatory on the article. However, we do take issue with the idea that recombinant antibodies should automatically replace polyclonals.

We take a broader view and argue that, while generating more recombinant reagents should be a priority, validation is the key issue – this is why we’re collaborating with F1000Research to develop the Antibody Validation Collection. The best antibody should always be used and this might be a polyclonal.

The recombinant monoclonals would need to be validated to show sensitivity and specificity, as well as reproducibility. In particular they would need to be shown to be superior to the best polyclonal antibodies, more sensitive and crucially more specific – a monoclonal antibody like a polyclonal may react with more than one target protein.

Researchers will be best served by improved availability of recombinant reagents and more high quality polyclonals, coupled with improved validation of all antibodies.

The great thing about this initiative is that it would help force suppliers of antibodies to raise their game and produce high quality and well validated reagents which ultimately benefits everybody.

We applaud Andrew and Andreas for taking up the fight!

Since we wrote this blog, Nature has posted two responses we think are interesting: 

Antibodies: validate recombinants too

Antibodies: the solution is validation

– from Matt and the CiteAb team

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