CORRESPONDENCE

Reproducibility: bypass animals for antibody production

The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre has just released its recommendations on non-animal-derived antibodies (see go.nature.com/2ypgstg), in accordance with the EU’s 2010 directive on protecting laboratory animals (go.nature.com/2wxd9as). We urge government authorities, funding agencies and publishers to endorse this technical advance to improve scientific reproducibility and benefit society.

Animal-derived antibodies used for non-therapeutic purposes are plagued by efficacy issues (A. Bradbury and A. Plückthun Nature 518, 27–29; 2015), with repercussions for research reproducibility, diagnosis and health management. By contrast, non-animal antibodies derived from universal naive display libraries (see, for example, P. Mondon et al. Front. Biosci. 13, 1117–1129; 2008) are defined by sequence and so are consistently reproducible.

Such libraries contain an enormous repertoire of structurally diverse antibody genes, comparable to those of the naive immune system. This facilitates the selection of antibodies for specificity, stability, yield and affinity. The libraries can also be used repeatedly, unlike recombinant animal-derived ones, which require a new immunization protocol for each antigen under investigation. Non-animal antibodies can be engineered in immunoglobulin formats to have properties that are indistinguishable from those of animal-derived ones. They are therefore able to replace them in all known applications.

Nature 581, 262 (2020)

Updates & Corrections

  • Correction 22 October 2020: An earlier version of this Correspondence omitted to specify that it was referring to antibodies developed for non-therapeutic purposes.

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