eLabBlog

The Beginner’s Guide to Managing an Antibody Collection

By Zareh Zurabyan 7 min read 01 Jun 2023

Antibodies are critical components of past, current, and future biomedical research. They have truly revolutionized our understanding of biology and the development of modern medicine. Both monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies aid in the detection, isolation, and quantification of proteins and different cell types as they are vital reagents for laboratory techniques such as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), western blot, immunohistochemistry (IHC), flow cytometry.

As essential reagents in most laboratories, their management, quality, and organization are paramount. In the following blog, we’ll provide you with a primer on the top providers of antibodies in the biological R&D space, their primary applications in research, and best practices for managing a collection of antibodies.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • The Top 10 Global Antibody Providers
  • The Most Popular Antibodies
  • 3 Research Fields where Antibodies are Indispensable
  • Best Practices for Antibody Library Tracking
  • Best Practices for Antibody Library Storage
  • Conclusion

Top 10 Antibody Companies

Many companies provide antibodies, but the “top” antibody companies depend on a few personal factors, such as your specific research needs and your labs’ budget. 

Here are ten companies that are among the largest and most well-known providers of antibodies in the United States:

A cautionary note: This is by no means an exhaustive list. Many other reputable companies provide antibodies. It is important to carefully evaluate the quality and specificity of any antibodies before purchasing them for use in experiments.

The Most Popular Antibody Products

The most used antibodies can vary over time and across different research fields or trends, as the popularity of different targets and applications can shift over time. 

Here are a few examples of some of the most commonly used and sold antibodies in research:

  • Anti-GAPDH (Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase) antibody: GAPDH is a ubiquitous enzyme that plays a key role in glycolysis and is often used as a loading control in western blotting experiments.
  • Anti-beta-actin antibody: Beta-actin is a widely expressed cytoskeletal protein that is also often used as a loading control in Western blotting experiments.
  • Anti-FLAG tag antibody: The FLAG tag is a small peptide tag often used to label and purify recombinant proteins in molecular biology experiments.
  • Anti-GFP (Green Fluorescent Protein) antibody: GFP is a widely used fluorescent protein that is often used as a reporter in live-cell imaging experiments.
  • Anti-CD3 antibody: CD3 is a cell surface protein found on T cells, and antibodies against CD3 are widely used to study T-cell function in immunology research.
  • Anti-CD4 antibody: CD4 is another cell surface protein found on T cells, and antibodies against CD4 are widely used in immunology research to label and study various T-cell subsets.

These antibodies are popular because they are widely used across many large research fields, are relatively easy to work with, and have been validated by many research studies. Additionally, many of these antibodies have been on the market for a long time, so they have had time to become well-established and trusted by researchers.

3 Research Fields Where Antibodies Applications are Indispensable

Antibody libraries can be useful in various research fields, as they provide a ready source of diverse antibodies that can be used for various antibodies applications. 

Here are some of the best practices for antibodies tracking and naming in a library:

  1. Immunology: The study of the immune system and its function often involves the use of antibodies to label and isolate different immune cell types, as well as to detect various cytokines, chemokines, and other immune molecules. Antibody libraries are used to generate and screen large numbers of antibodies against different targets, which can help identify new therapeutic targets or biomarkers.
  2. Cancer research: Antibodies are widely used in cancer research to detect and target specific tumor cell biomarkers. In particular, monoclonal antibodies that target specific proteins on the surface of cancer cells are used as therapeutics in several contexts. Antibody libraries can help identify new protein targets or to generate and screen new monoclonal antibodies for cancer treatment.
  3. Neuroscience: Antibodies are used in neuroscience research to label and detect specific proteins and cellular structures in the brain, such as neurotransmitter receptors, ion channels, and synapses. Antibody collections can be used to generate and screen antibodies against different neural targets, which can help identify new therapeutic targets for neurological disorders or improve our understanding of the brain and its function.

Many additional research fields, such as infectious disease research, plant biology, and others, use antibody collections. The specific research needs of a laboratory will determine the usefulness of an antibody library in a field or laboratory.

Best Practices for Antibody Library Tracking

Antibody tracking and establishing consistent naming conventions for antibody collections is critical to ensure the quality and accuracy, and reliability of these key reagents. If one antibody is mislabeled or misplaced, experimental results could be misconstrued, and the pace of research could be impeded. 

Here are some of the best practices for tracking and naming antibodies in a library:

  1. Assign a unique identifier: Each antibody in the library should be assigned a unique identifier, such as a number or a combination of letters and numbers. This identifier should be used consistently across all documentation and tracking systems.
  2. Document antibody information: In addition to the identifier, information about the antibody should be documented, such as the antigen it targets, the host species it was raised in, and the specific epitope it recognizes.
  3. Use a tracking system: A tracking system, such as an electronic database or a laboratory information management system (LIMS), can help track the location and usage of each antibody in the library.
  4. Standardize naming conventions: Consistent naming conventions can help avoid confusion and ensure accuracy. For example, naming conventions could include the antibody identifier, followed by the target antigen, and then the host species, such as “Ab1234-CD3-mouse”.
  5. Use barcoding or RFID technology: Barcoding or RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology can be used to track and locate individual antibodies within the library. Each antibody can be labeled with a unique barcode or RFID tag, which can be scanned or read to quickly identify and find the antibody.
  6. Regularly update and review your library: It is important to regularly update and review the tracking and naming conventions to ensure they remain accurate and effective, especially as new antibodies are added to the library or experiments are conducted. 

Best Practices for Antibody Library Storage

Proper storage of antibodies in freezers is another crucial aspect for maintaining the stability and activity of a collection over time. 

Best practices for storing antibodies in freezers include:

  1. Monitor freezer temperature: Use a thermometer to regularly monitor the temperature inside the freezer. It is recommended to use a thermometer with a calibrated probe that can be placed near the antibody storage area. The temperature should be maintained at -80°C for long-term storage.
  2. Use freezer alarms: Set up an alarm system that alerts lab personnel in case of a freezer malfunction or temperature deviation. Many freezers come with built-in alarms, or you can use external alarms that are connected to the freezer.
  3. Minimize freezer opening and closing: Minimize the frequency and duration of door openings to reduce the risk of temperature fluctuations. Encourage lab personnel to take out all the needed materials in one visit and avoid leaving the freezer door open for prolonged periods of time.
  4. Maintain freezer organization: Ensure the freezer is organized and the antibody storage area is easily accessible. Use freezer racks or boxes that are clearly labeled and organized by antibody type or experiment to facilitate quick and easy retrieval.
  5. Employ backup storage: Consider using a backup storage freezer or off-site storage for critical antibody samples to protect against potential freezer malfunctions or power outages.
  6. Regular maintenance: Perform routine maintenance and cleaning of the freezer to ensure it functions properly. Clean and defrost the freezer as needed, and check for signs of wear and tear, such as damaged seals, that could affect its performance.

Conclusion

Managing an antibody library in the lab involves keeping track of many reagents, ensuring their quality, and organizing them to facilitate their use. By following the best practices above, you can help ensure that your antibody library is adequately stored and maintained, which will help ensure the quality and reliability of your research.

On top of these best practices, you can facilitate easy access to the antibody collection by implementing lab inventory management software, such as those offered by eLabNext.

To learn more about how our platform can enable efficient and effective management of your antibody collection, contact us for a personal demo

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