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Biotechnology Programme

Monoclonal Antibodies Core Unit

Head of Unit:  Giovanna Roncador
Research highlights

During the last 16 years, the Monoclonal Antibodies Unit has generated a large number of mAbs ( against more than 130 different antigens ), mostly targeting molecules for which mAbs are not commercially available. Many of those mAbs have been licensed to external companies, generating in turn royalties that represent an important source of revenue for the CNIO.

Each year we prepare and update a detailed CNIO mAbs catalogue, which contains the datasheets of more than 78 thoroughly validated high-quality mAbs (accessible at http://www.cnio.es/ing/servicios/anticuerpos/default.aspx)

This year, in collaboration with the Custom Antibodies Service(CAbS) of the Institute for Advanced Chemistry of Catalonia of the Spanish Council for Scientific Research (IQAC-CSIC), we have successfully generated several mAbs against small molecules, compounds with low molecular weight such as vitamins, chemicals, hormones, etc., thus expanding our portfolio of reagents in this new field. We also established collaborations with several big pharmaceutical companies (e.g. Merck, Lilly) for the production of mAbs against molecules, of their interest, involved in cancer development.

EuroMAbNet and its commitment with Ab validation

In 2008, in collaboration with Oxford University, we founded EuroMAbNet (www.euromabnet.com), a non-profit organisation that includes internationally distinguished multidisciplinary academic laboratories specialised in antibody technologies. Their wealth of expertise ranges from the identification of new targets to the production of fully validated Abs and their use as research tools, clinically relevant diagnostic/prognostic reagents, and novel therapeutics.

The use of poorly characterised antibodies is of major concern to the scientific community, resulting in wasted time and valuable research funds, as well as in the publication and perpetuation of erroneous research results, which ultimately compromise the advancement of science. To address this problem, EuroMAbNet has published a position paper (Roncador et al., 2016) and some easy to follow guidelines (http://www.euromabnet.com/guidelines) that provide a set of criteria and recommendations to help researchers select the most effective mAbs from those available in the market, and provide the strategic guidance needed to perform antibody validation.

EroMAbNet also has a strong commitment to improving the education and training of junior scientists in Ab validation. With that in mind, we have started organising annual Antibody Validation Workshops (www.euromabnet.com) to provide practical guidelines about the principles underlying antibody validation, including the verification of Ab specificity, selectivity, sensitivity and reproducibility. These workshops outline the problems generated by the use of poorly validated reagents and educate researchers to minimise the purchase of ineffective Abs.