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Antibodies are naturally produced by the human body’s plasma cells and trigger an adaptive immune response against invading pathogens. Laboratory-produced antibodies are engineered to restore, enhance, modify or mimic the immune system's attack on cells that aren't wanted, thereby proving invaluable in cancer research. 

Speakers at a recent Biotech Connector scientific event at the Frederick National Laboratory presented talks on antibody characterization and the use of imaging mass spectrometry to evaluate antibodies. 

Why antibodies?  

“We do need better antibodies,” said Simona Colantonio, Ph.D., the Antibody Characterization Laboratory Director at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, referring to well-characterized and validated antibodies. “And the reason we need better antibodies is because better antibodies enable better science. And when you have better science, you will find faster and better solutions for the patients—which is our goal.”  

The Antibody Characterization Laboratory performs rigorous antibody validation, and to date, Colantonio’s team has characterized more than 940 antibodies. She presented on the many techniques and technologies her laboratory uses to improve antibody specificity and reproducibility. 


Imaging mass cytometry 

The two other speakers focused on imaging mass cytometry, which is a technique that tags antibodies with heavy metals to enable the detection of multiple antigens (foreign substances) simultaneously.  

Won Jin Ho, M.D., director of the Mass Cytometry Facility at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University, introduced the mass cytometry technique and its use in cancer research, with a specific focus on applications for discovering potential mechanisms of immunotherapy response and resistance. 

Monirath Hav, M.D., Ph.D., director of pathology at MacroGenics, ended the event with a talk on the application of imaging mass cytometry to provide insight into tumor biology for diffuse large B cell lymphoma, a common and aggressive type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.  

Join us next month 

On May 23, the Biotech Connector will return to look at another imaging technique that is revolutionizing our understanding of biology: volume electron microscopy.  

This quarterly series is held at the Frederick National Laboratory’s Advanced Research Technology Facility in partnership with the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce. Join the mailing list to be notified when registration opens for the May event.