Tracking PTMs with Polyclonal Antibodies

Drug Discovery & Development


April 1, 2011



As scientists use polyclonal antibodies more widely, their needs become more varied. Moreover, the reliability of catalogue polyclonals can fluctuate, so some researchers prefer an antibody designed and manufactured just for them. That’s one of the special capabilities of New England Peptide (NEP) in Gardner, Mass.


“Our customers use polyclonal antibodies for diagnostic, drug, and vaccine research,” says NEP’s CEO Dave Robinson. He adds that NEP’s customer base includes more than 1,000 scientists and companies stretched over 35 countries.

The need for custom antibodies will continue to grow, because the list of proteins that researchers want to study keeps getting longer. “There are thousands of known proteins, with new ones discovered all the time,” says Scott Lewis, director, antibody division at NEP.

Much of NEP’s expertise is best utilized by the manufacture of post-translational modification (PTM) specific antibodies. “A big trend in protein science is PTMs,” says Bob Hammer, PhD, vice president, chemical development at NEP. This includes acetylation, methylation, and phosphorylation of proteins. “In these areas, customers might not see what they need in a catalogue because they have discovered something new,” Hammer says.


“PTMs, such as phosphorylation, play a crucial role in signal transduction, where researchers explore how an extracellular signal affects other proteins inside the cell,” Lewis says. “Acetylation and methylation are more involved in epigenetics, which is the study of how changes in the nuclear environment can affect the proteome.”


A customer who needs to solve a particular problem with a polyclonal antibody can contact NEP. “A key thing that we do is talk with customers and fit the solution to their need,” Lewis says. “Many catalogue polyclonal antibodies aren’t specific enough to the protein or to the PTMs of interest. Our antigen-design process and affinity-purification techniques give our customers the best chance of receiving an antibody that works the way they need.”


After talking with NEP’s experts, it usually takes only about three months to receive the custom polyclonal antibody. According to customer Joan Steffan, PhD, assistant professor, University of California at Irvine, “NEP delivered a high-quality antibody that furthered my research on Huntington’s disease.”


This custom service provides precise solutions for specific projects. Moreover, the combination of technology and in-house experience at NEP creates the consistency that modern experiments require. Consequently, researchers gather compatible data over time.


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"The phospho-NL-4 Ab is fantastic, so that is great news! We have a VERY exciting study ongoing with it.
Not sure if you saw but the original phospho NL-1 Ab you guys made for us we just published in Nature Neuroscience. Thanks for making great antibodies, and we look forward to keep working with you guys!"
Michael B. PhD – NIH