Time, money, and tens of thousands of animals could be saved if researchers replace animal-derived antibodies with modern technologies, according to a review by the PETA International Science Consortium Ltd. published today in Biotechnology Advances, a peer-reviewed journal covering developments and trends in biotechnology principles and applications. The Science Consortium’s review addresses a desire shared by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the scientific community, and the general public to improve the reproducibility of biomedical research.
The PETA Science Consortium paper describes two types of affinity reagents, recombinant antibodies and aptamers, which are non-animal technologies with numerous scientific advantages over animal-derived antibodies and which have the potential to improve the overall quality of research. Recombinant antibodies and aptamers can be used in the same applications as antibodies produced in animals, including in basic research, regulatory testing, and clinical applications such as diagnosis of disease and treatment of illnesses.
There are two ways of producing antibodies in animals, both of which involve injecting an animal with a foreign substance and eventually killing the animal. One method of antibody production (the ascites method) causes large tumors that balloon from the abdomens of the animals and is so painful to animals that the NIH recommends against its use and numerous countries have restricted or banned the production of antibodies using this method.
“This review will provide greater awareness of the advantages of non-animal affinity reagents in order to facilitate their development and use–a boon for the animals and for science,” says Dr. Amy Clippinger, Advisor to the PETA International Science Consortium.
The review also offers recommendations for transitioning to non-animal affinity reagents, including federal, university, or industry funding incentives for researchers interested in these technologies and for NIH to commission a critically needed update to the outdated 1999 National Research Council report on antibody production.