CCAB breaks into the reagent market with unique, reliable antibodies
by Ghadeer Shubassi, PhD
Scientific Manager, Reagents Development
‘My Flow Cytometry experiments did not work, what happened?’
Sound familiar? It does to me. Having spent many years on the bench during my PhD and post-doctoral studies, I often encountered experiments suddenly not working anymore after months of optimizing protocols. Troubleshooting was painful: it took time, delayed publishing manuscripts and writing grants, and often involved following up with lab members to determine if changes in reagent lot numbers or suppliers had caused the difference in results. As I ventured into a new chapter of my career at the Centre for the Commercialization of Antibodies and Biologics (CCAB) nearly 2 years ago, I was excited to help researchers with their most frustrating experiences in science: lack of reproducibility in their experiments.
My story with commercializing antibody reagents began at CCAB in June 2017 with the goal of building a pipeline of reagent antibodies and launching them in the market. I started by first learning more about the antibody reagent market and the unmet needs of clients. Having been an antibody buyer and user, I understood the mindset of scientists who are purchasing antibodies and their desire for reliability. As I studied the market, literature emphasized that the antibody reagent market has suffered tremendously from the irreproducibility crisis, which posed a significant hindrance on the progress of scientific research. The research community has demanded a change in the antibody reagent field and stricter criteria on the quality of antibodies being sold. (1,2,3)
Let’s go to market
In a crowded space that provides numerous companies, each with an array of reagent antibodies for clients, CCAB rose to the challenge by offering niche-driven antibody products. While the focus of CCAB has been to advance University of Toronto’s (UofT’s) antibody assets with therapeutic value towards drug development, we realized that we have access to a subset of antibodies that can be turned into a commercial portfolio of antibody products fit for sale in the reagent market.
How do we stand out? By leveraging UofT’s phage display platform, a number of high-quality monoclonal antibodies have been generated, primarily against human cell surface proteins of therapeutic interest. These recombinant antibodies allow for rapid reconfiguration into various formats, species and isoforms for different applications.
While hybridoma-based antibodies have been the standard in the monoclonal antibody industry, recombinant antibodies are now in the limelight since they have many advantages, including:
- a renewable source of antibodies,
- reproducibility, which overcomes the hurdle of lot-to-lot variations, and
- cost effective production of a large number of proteins.
Show me the data
To further illustrate the features of CCAB’s research-grade reagent antibodies, the CCAB team wanted to provide high-quality validation data with its products. To this end, CCAB concisely designed and implemented experiments that demonstrate the specificity of each antibody’s binding to its antigen. Having established this diligent quality control pipeline, each CCAB product is accompanied with a datasheet that supports the application suitable for use: Flow Cytometry and ELISA. One of our unique offerings is comprehensive sets of protein family profilers that allow researchers to profile multiple isoforms within a receptor protein family such as the FGFR panel.
CCAB is partnering with MédiMabs for international distribution and with MedStore UofT for distribution to the Toronto research community. Product information, datasheets and ordering information are readily available for clients. Ultimately, our aim is to provide researchers with reliable reagent antibodies to conduct high quality research.
To our clients, our goal is to offer our expertise and the lessons learned throughout this journey. CCAB has heard your concerns about the quality of antibodies currently on the reagent market. Not only do we give you confidence in our products by providing datasheets, I am available to offer technical support and advice on how to use our antibodies so that you succeed in your experiments and research goals.
- Monya Baker. Reproducibility crisis: Blame it on the antibodies. Nature.2015; 521: 274-276
- Vivien Marx. Finding the right antibody for the job. Nature Methods. 2013; 10: 703-707
- Alan Dove. Agreeable antibodies: Antibody validation challenges and solutions. Science. 2017; 357:1165-1167