A Comprehensive Cancer Center Designated by the National Cancer Institute

Pathways to Discovery: Winter 2012

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Monoclonal Antibody Facility Provides Customized Service, Cost Savings

Investigators can have made-to-order, novel monoclonal antibodies prepared within a relatively short period of time and for a greatly reduced cost compared to that of a biotech company.
—Mandel Davis

A unique core facility provides UCCCC members with a powerful tool needed to conduct next-generation research while saving thousands of dollars.

In 1995, the Frank W. Fitch Monoclonal Antibody Facility was created to promote hybridoma technology and make related services available to the UChicago community. The facility works closely with investigators to offer comprehensive murine (mouse, rat) hybridoma and protein production services, using state-of-the-art technology, suited to the specific basic science research needs of the investigator.

Hybridomas are hybrid cells. They comprise a malignant myeloma cell fused with a specific, single antibody-producing B cell. This gives the hybridoma unique properties from both parent cells, such as secretion of the antibody and the ability to replicate indefinitely. A protein is purified to extract the antibody, which investigators use for various tissue culture techniques, including microarrays, assays, and immunofluorescence.

Because antibodies are used by the immune system to identify and target foreign objects, they are useful for studying disease, such as cancer. They have become an essential part of the rapidly growing interdisciplinary approach to biomedical technology, basic research, and clinical sciences at UChicago and have advanced the field of cancer immunology.

"Each hybridoma makes one specific antibody that can be used to answer so many different questions, sometimes related to cancer," said Technical Director Carol McShan. She added that the list of available antibodies continues to increase as the facility produces new ones.

Instead of purchasing monoclonal antibodies from outside sources, UCCCC members can take advantage of the onsite facility and obtain antibodies for a fraction of the price.

"We're providing a service that is unmatchable," said Mandel Davis, a research technologist."Investigators can have made-to-order, novel monoclonal antibodies prepared within a relatively short period of time and for a greatly reduced cost compared to that of a biotech company––$4,700 vs. $11,000."

Shortly after pioneering biologists and 1984 Nobel Prize winners Georges Kohler, PhD, and Cesar Milstein, PhD, discovered how to make monoclonal antibodies from hybridomas in 1975, Frank W. Fitch, MD, PhD, was one of the first UChicago investigators to begin using the technique to make hybridoma antibodies.

Other researchers followed, and the antibodies they produced were licensed. McShan said these hybridomas are preserved in a freezer, and she works with the UChicago Office of Technology and Intellectual Property to establish licensing agreements with commercial biotechnology companies around the world. The repository of antibodies, McShan said, is a source of revenue for the University and for the individuals who created them.




Monoclonal Antibody Facility