Automated system to expand monoclonal production

Abcam and Beckman Coulter have announced a major bioscience collaboration – to create one of the world’s most sophisticated, automated systems for the production of monoclonal antibodies for use in research.

The move is part of the development of Abcam’s new, multi-million pound laboratory which will provide high throughput monoclonal antibody generation, purification and characterization. This expansion will allow the company to scale up significantly its in-house antibody production, transforming it into a world-leading producer of high-quality monoclonal antibodies to complement its existing catalog.

The key to the expansion is the ability to automate many aspects of hybridoma generation – at the same time as ensuring total quality control and reproducibility of the processes involved. To help make this possible, Abcam has partnered with lab automation experts, Beckman Coulter. The collaboration will involve installing four Biomek automated work stations customised for specific applications, controlled by Abcam’s Advanced SAMI® Workstation EX Software. This integrates all devices and liquid handlers and interleaves actions and plates to achieve maximum throughput.

All workstations are networked by a new Process Management Software and the new Data Acquisition and Repository tool. This allows the flow of data from application to application, managing complex procedures within and across Biomek automated workstations.

Monoclonal antibodies are created using hybridoma technology, first described by Georges Köhler and César Milstein in 1975. While it is already technically possible to produce large numbers of different monoclonal antibody producing cell lines, traditional methods are labor and consumable intensive and time-consuming.

As Jim Warwick, Abcam’s managing director, explained: “We have always produced a number of our own polyclonal antibodies. The extension to making our own monoclonal antibody producing cell lines will enable us to expand greatly our production whilst maintaining the high quality of our products.”