An important component of most protein research is antibody production. The generation of an ideal antibody for a specific research purpose involves many considerations. It is necessary for the research team to identify the target antigen, determine whether the ideal antibody will be monoclonal or polyclonal, and decide on pre-made, custom, or do-it-yourself production.
FACT #1: Start with the antigen.
When composing an antibody, the first consideration is the specific antigen to which the antibody is expected to respond. It is important for the researcher to select an antigen that is sufficient in quantity, reasonably stable, and pure enough for routine isolation. It is also imperative to consider the specific characteristics of the antigen. For instance, in comparison to an easily soluble antigen, it is generally more difficult to produce an antibody for a hydrophobic peptide sequence.
FACT #2: Monoclonal antibodies are more specific and reproducible.
For some researchers and projects, monoclonal antibodies are the best option. Monoclonals take longer to produce but are much more specific since they recognize a single epitope of the target antigen. Research conducted using monoclonals is also more easily reproduced and need not be species-specific.
FACT #3: Polyclonal antibodies are less expensive and easier to produce.
When enhanced specificity is not necessary to a project or when the research calls for the flexibility of an antibody that recognizes multiple epitopes of the target antigen, polyclonals may be an ideal option. This is especially true when researchers need an antibody that will bind to a target protein without regard to posttranslational modifications or other routine protein changes. Since these antibodies are easier to generate, they may be produced in as little as 20 percent of the standard time required to produce a monoclonal antibody.
FACT #4: Pre-made polyclonals may not be the best value.
Up-front financial considerations are not the best indicator of value when it comes to antibodies. The decision to select a generic antibody from a pre-manufactured catalog may actually result in increased costs since it is more likely that the researcher will spend time filtering the resultant data for background noise. Investing in a custom antibody at the beginning of the project may minimize the time a research team spends interpreting results and repeating experiments.
FACT #5: Some lab supply companies offer DIY kits for ultimate research autonomy.
Some researchers prefer to produce their own antibodies, and it is possible to acquire kits to assist in this process. The companies that offer this option offer purification and production reagents as well as kits for antibody assay and isotyping. The obvious benefit of this production method is that it provides the researcher control over every aspect of antibody generation.
Antibody production is an important aspect of protein research. Savvy research teams will evaluate all of the options for antibody crafting before making a decision. This ensures that the resultant antibody will meet the project’s standards for flexibility, specificity, reproducibility, and overall value.